Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

Candidates For San Diego Council District 4 Discuss Issues

Barry Pollard, Myrtle Cole and Dwayne Crenshaw, three of the candidates for San Diego City Council District 4.
Barry Pollard, Myrtle Cole and Dwayne Crenshaw, three of the candidates for San Diego City Council District 4.

Video interviews with the candidates are below.

Candidates For San Diego Council District 4 Discuss Issues
GUESTSSenior care advocate, Myrtle ColeCommunity non-profit director, Dwayne CrenshawBusinessman, Brian "Barry" Pollard

CAVANAUGH: Voters will go to the polls a week from today and cast ballots for one of nine people running to fill San Diego's 4th City Council seat. District 4 now covers 17 San Diego neighborhoods east of the 805, and north of state route 54. The seat was left vacant in January when Tony Young left to head the regional chapter of the American Red Cross. Voters in the same neighborhoods who elected anyone in 2010 will be eligible to cast ballots next week, even though the district was recently given new boundaries. The candidates are teacher Blanca Lopez Brown, attorney Monica Montgomery, Pastor Ray Smith, businessman Tony via Franca, educator Sandy Spatman, and community policy advisor Bruce Williams. The three candidates who raised the most financial support are here today to talk about the issues. Senior care advocate, Myrtle Cole. Welcome to the program. COLE: Thank you. CAVANAUGH: Community nonprofit director Dwayne Crenshaw. Welcome. CRENSHAW: Good afternoon, thank you. CAVANAUGH: And businessman Brian Barry Pollard, I'll be calling you Barry if that's okay. POLLARD: That's fine, Maureen. CAVANAUGH: Welcome to the program. Now, this is not a formal debate. But for time's sake, I'm going to ask you to limit your answers to about 1 minute in length. And I'll let you know when you've gone over. I have a clock right here. Okay? Let me start first with you, Myrtle. And I'm going to be asking you all this question. What will your top priority be as council representative for district 4? COLE: Maureen, there has to be three. First of all, it has to be public safety. If the public are not safe, then they can't prosper. So that being law enforcement officers, former law enforcement, No.1. No.2, of course infrastructure. But No.3, we have to bring a lot more jobs into our community. We spent about $1.6 billion in one year 8 7 million of those dollars went outside of our district. CRENSHAW: My top priorities have been jobs, education, and safety POLLARD: The difference between me and the other candidates is that I have a record result with those issues, creating job, education as a former teacher, and working with high school dropouts, gang-affiliated youth, getting them on track, and working with our safety, police and community groups. But I want to bring in 100 new jobs in the City Council, on education, I want to create a new education fund, $250,000 for district 4 students and form partnerships with San Diego State and UCSD to get graduates from Lincoln a direct path into these universities. And lastly on safety, implement the city's 5-year plan to increase policing and neighborhood watch officers. CAVANAUGH: And to you, Barry. Your top priority as council representative for District 4. POLLARD: Well, I'm going to take the highest priority for the first 18 months because it's truly what we're talking about. There's a lot of things that's needed, development, jobs, safety, all of those issues are critical. I'm going to be focusing primarily on getting our southeast community plan update funded and out into the community. There was a kickoff event last evening at the Jacobs center and I was surprised I didn't see the candidates there. And at that event, there were over 100 people from District 4 that were present. And what we did is we talked about how we're going to get this community plan implemented, how we're going to get it completed because it is long overdue. We talked about funding for the environmental impact studies. We talked about potential parks. We talked about roads utilities, that kind of thing. So it was very enlightening, and I was glad to participate in it. CAVANAUGH: Let me move to the next question. And Dwayne, you talked in your first answer about your top priority. You have a plan to bring jobs to District 4. Perhaps you can explain a little bit more interest how you're going to bring those jobs -- better jobs to District 4. How are you going to find the money to implement those programs? CRENSHAW: That's a great question. Again, my record of results already speaks to me being able to achieve that. One of the things I want to do again is create 100 new jobs for young people in the district, specifically installing solar panels on homes in the 4th district, and artificial grass. There's partnerships both with SDG&E, the county city and water departments to, bring in funds from those sources for energy efficiency but also from block grant dollars and funding from the workforce partnership. So it'll be a public/private partnership to create those jobs for young people while also benefiting the community and doing economic benefits for residents in the households. With market creek plaza, we created over 2,500 jobs in the area. I want to work on signing two more grocery stores in the 4th district at least. We're well underserved. And on imperial save next to the post office, air medical facility. Not a hospital, but 24 hour resident care. That could create a lot of jobs. CAVANAUGH: And Myrtle, what are your plans? COLE: I plan to work with diamond VID, I plan to work with labor, with developers, community leaders who want more jobs. And we're talking about restaurants, all we said, grocery stores. One is not enough. That's food 4 less, and then there's a Ralph's. We need an Albertson's, a Vons, grocery stores so people can have an option, and also work in those job, and they're good-paying jobs. We also need apparel. That's why 817 million going out of our district into Lemon Grove, it goes into plaza Bonita, gross month center, all those outside areas and not in our district. So I want to bring restaurant, apparel stores, grocery stores, and I'm going to be working with the different community groups who I've spoken to already to help me do this, and especially the UFCW people like that will want to work with us to make sure that we have jobs in those stores in our district. CAVANAUGH: And Barry Pollard, the issue of jobs, you talked about how you're -- you want to see the development plan in district 4. But actual, good-paying jobs. How do you bring that to district 4? POLLARD: Well, the low-lying fruit is make sure that I get on the policy board for workforce partnership. There hasn't been anyone on that board, and that's where jobs are created, not only for our youth, also training to prepare people for better jobs. That would be the first thing. The second thing is in my background in human resources, I like the idea of having light manufacturing done. Perhaps not from a city policy standpoint, but from using the position as an influential position, talk to some of the employers around, outside of the community to open up different type of facilities like distribution in our community. And the third thing and we've got five big employers that are in our district. And I want really like to begin a dialogue to find out how we get some of our folks employed in those five big corporations that we do have. Cox, Coca-Cola, those kind of things. CAVANAUGH: I want to try a 30-second answer if I may, because you've already talked about the Jacob Center development. Myrtle, you're not completely supportive of, that, the market creek plaza. COLE: The market creek plaza is a nice area. It's just we need more. CAVANAUGH: The center with the Wal-Mart store, how do you feel about that? COLE: I want to bring big box in. I do. But I want to bring the big box that will give good wages, health benefits. So I want to bring the Target, grocery stores. Those are the jobs they want, where you can have decent wages so you don't have to be on welfare or food stamps and work at the same time. So I plan to bring in good jobs, decent paying jobs with benefits attached to it. CAVANAUGH: I'm trying for that 30 seconds, and I'm going to move to you, Dwayne. What about that controversial Wal-Mart store? Do you support that? CRENSHAW: I'm the only candidate in this race who's actually worked for Jacobs for four years, built Market Creek Plaza created jobs, brought in the services like grocery stores that we need. I want to continue to do that. So the development, Walgreens or other services that the community need, I will support that, I and want to have a community benefits agreement on every project done in the district. There are contractors from the community that will help build it, local hiring, good wages, benefits, and the design if it meets the community need, I'll push for that and we'll move forward. CAVANAUGH: And what about that charge that having a Wal-Mart as an anchor is bringing low-paying jobs into District 4? POLLARD: What I'm looking for is, as the other two candidates, we have an absence, almost a food desert sort of environment. So I'm looking for any kind of retail grocery store that can come in, do two things, one certainly is to provide food that's fresh, also prices that single moms and seniors could have. And then put some competition on food 4 less. Food 4 less is in need of some competition. And let me also mention to you that the project with Wal-Mart is going to be anticipated more further down Market and 47th, not at the -- CAVANAUGH: Okay, but yes or no, do you support the Wal-Mart? POLLARD: Yes. CAVANAUGH: Let me move to another issue. And let me start with you, Barry. In 2012, 32% of murders in the City of San Diego were committed in district 4. As a council member, what would you do to change that? What would you do perhaps that your predecessors have not done? POLLARD: Well, one of the first things I would do, and we'll talk about the policing, but I was amazed to hear, not surprised but just disappointed that our gang commission has not been funded. It has been a voluntary position and role. And the first thing I would do is try to find some money that can help put some teeth in the gang commission. Second thing I would do is continue working with the police department. We've done a very effective neighborhood watch in my area that's reduced crime by 50%. And that involves working very well very closely with the police, very, very closely with the neighbors. And then the last thing I would look at doing is getting some sensitivity training for the young police officers that are coming into our community. They don't know our community, typically. And they get put in an environment that could be perceived as very threatening to them. CAVANAUGH: Myrtle, District 4 does not have a high crime rate, but it has a high murder rate. What would you do to bring that down? COLE: What I would to do is work with the police department. Being a former law enforcement officer for myself for 11.5 years, I know that we can increase public safety by increasing neighborhood watch programs. But also we need to focus on having those young people have jobs. And also get some counseling, not just in prison, and not just arrest them, but we need to make sure that they have jobs, that they know that they have jobs, and that they're valuable human beings in this society. But also making sure that we council them that the law enforcement recovers know how to work with them. And that's what we need to do. But increasing neighborhood watch programs, the community-oriented policing is a must. We also have to have neighborhood storefronts so that recovers can walk around so people can get to know them so we can build a better relationship so people can not be scared to address crimes or tell people that there are crimes happening in this area and report crimes. CAVANAUGH: And Dwayne Crenshaw, the murder rate in District 4? CRENSHAW: The murder rate is certainly not acceptable. I would like to put out there though that the 4th council district has the 3rd lowest overall crime rate in the city, and we should be proud of that. Yesterday I was the only candidate in this race that went down to City Hall to testify for the 2014 budget, and I called for the police department's 5-year plan and specifically said we need to solve some of the unsolved murders in the district. An eye for an eye will leave everyone blind, and we need to encourage this idea that snitching is okay. I want to support funding for a gun buy-back program to get guns off of our streets. I've already worked with the gang-affiliated high school dropout unit in the past. We'll do more of that. And lastly, I want to create a jobs education and safety fund that will help young people get jobs and opportunities in the community. A bad education is a path to crime and jail. CAVANAUGH: All three of you are African American running to represent the historically A can American neighborhoods in San Diego, but demographics are changing. And Dwayne, how will you work to include the growing Latino and Asian populations in your district? CRENSHAW: The Latino population is about 42% now. Asian Pacific islander, about 25%. African Americans are 3rd. I come to this as a former vice president at San Diego state where my vice president was Latina, I've always had a commitment to diversity. My staff was extremely diverse. I'm committed to that diversity as a strength. And my staff will reflect that down at City Hall. And we'll also have a very strong policy team on our staff that's diverse but that leads the agenda at City Hall and delivers the results for district 4 CAVANAUGH: And Barry? POLLARD: Well, if you remember I'm the one that spearheaded the redistricting effort in 2010. So I was the one that sort of made this community much more diverse and created the population and the demographics as it is. But I've already been working with a lot of Latino leaders, and all folks of color in our district. And I will continue to do that. I've met with numerous organizations, a variety of collaboration has occurred, and we'll continue to work with all people of color in our community. CAVANAUGH: And let me get your response to that, Myrtle. COLE: Maureen, I work with homecare providers right now, 22,000 of them in San Diego County. Very diverse providers, working to make sure that everyone has good wages and health benefits. Very diverse, Latinos, Asians, African Americans, and we work with every single one of them, every one is valuable. That's what I plan to do. I plan to have a diverse staff in my district, making sure that we address everyone's needs because everyone has about the same issues. We all need jobs, we all need good-paying jobs, we all need healthcare, we have the same needs. We want to be safe in our neighborhoods. So I'm going to address every single constituent in my district equally, and making sure that I have a very diverse staff. CAVANAUGH: 30 seconds each, if you would. Mayor Filner is reportedly waiting for the district 4 election to get a democratic majority on the San Diego City Council. Do you see yourself as a solid democratic vote or as a swing vote on the council? Myrtle? COLE: I've been endorsed by the Democratic Party. I am a Democrat, and I will work with Bob Filner and the Democrats on the floor as well as the Republicans. But I am a strong democratic person who was endorsed by the party and the Chicano democratic association also. CAVANAUGH: And Barry Pollard? POLLARD: I am as well, a lifelong Democrat. My priority is going to be instead of the swing vote, it's going to be District 4 centered. I will use that vote. I'm interested in moving the agenda for district 4 forward and certainly as a swing vote. I'm an issues-oriented person, a lifelong Democrat and want to bring some common sense downtown. CAVANAUGH: And Dwayne Crenshaw? CRENSHAW: I too am clearly a lifelong Democrat. And I'm proud of that party affiliation. But I'm a centrist and a consensus voter. I want to work with Democrats and Republicans to find the best solutions for the 4th council district but also for the San Diego region. CAVANAUGH: I want to give you all a chance to wrap up your voice to your constituents, your potential constituents, and talk about why you're running and what you want to bring to District 4. All of 30 seconds to do it. [ LAUGHTER ] CAVANAUGH: Dwayne Crenshaw? CRENSHAW: As you've listened over the last few minute, you've heard a lot about plans and idea the. I have a real record of results. I have delivered. I will continue to deliver for the 4th district as I have for many, many years. I'm a lifelong resident of district 4, a native San Diegan, with the experience at City Hall and the community to really bring results. And I will appreciate your vote on March26th. CAVANAUGH: Thank you. And Barry Pollard? POLLARD: I'm supported by the community, Maureen. I've looked at where all the money is coming from. A lot of my opponents have gotten the majority of their funds from outside the community. Mine has not been outside the community. I have proven that I'm a servant of this community by all of the things that I have done over the last five year, including the redistricting, including standing up and running against an incumbent, and helping wherever I can to make that community a better place for all residents. CAVANAUGH: And Myrtle? COLE: 43 years of serving the people, serving the public as a law enforcement officer, as a City Council representative for four City Councils. I have my MPA to help small businesses thrive. I will make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity, a better quality of life in my district. That's the No.1 priority, making sure that my district has a better quality of life. I've been endorsed by numerous people, by the Democratic Party, different elected officials. They know I can hit the ground running on day 1, and I want everyone's support and vote on March26th. Thank you so very much. CAVANAUGH: And thank you all three of you for being so concise. We got to address a lot of issues because of that.


Voters will go to the polls a week from today and cast ballots for one of nine people running to fill San Diego's District 4 City Council seat.

District 4 covers eastern and southeastern San Diego, including Emerald Hills, Encanto, Bay Terraces, Oak Park, Lincoln Park, Skyline, Paradise Hills and Valencia Park.

The council seat was left vacant in January when City Council President Tony Young left to head the regional chapter of the American Red Cross. Voters in the same neighborhoods that elected Tony Young in 2010 will be eligible to cast ballots next week, even though District 4 was recently given new boundaries.

The three candidates who have raised the most financial support are senior care advocate Myrtle Cole, community non-profit director Dwayne Crenshaw and businessman Brian "Barry" Pollard.


Cole told KPBS that if elected, her top priorities would be public safety, infrastructure and bringing in jobs. She said too much of the district's money is spent outside of the district.

Crenshaw said his priorities would be jobs, education and safety. He plans to bring in 100 new jobs in his first year and to double the number of minority contracts in District 4.

Pollard said his priority in the first 18 months would be updating and getting funding for the Southeast Community Plan.

The remaining candidates running in District 4 are teacher Blanca Lopez Brown, attorney Monica Montgomery, pastor Ray Smith, businessman Tony Villafranca, educator Sandy Spackman, and community policy advisor Bruce Williams.

Myrtle Cole
Dwayne Crenshaw
Barry Pollard

Corrected: March 31, 2023 at 3:00 AM PDT
Claire Trageser contributed to this report.