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Democrat Mayoral Candidate Ed Harris On His Uphill Battle Against Faulconer

Ed Harris.
Courtesy Ed Harris
Ed Harris.

Ed Harris Discusses His Run For San Diego Mayor
Democrat Mayoral Candidate Ed Harris On His Uphill Battle Against Faulconer GUEST: Ed Harris, former interim councilman, San Diego

The man who took over Kevin Faulconer's city Council seat when he became mayor what now wants his office. Ed Harris has been endorsed by the San Diego Democratic Party are -- party. He entered the Mayor's race in March of this year. Ed Harris, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. Why did you wait so long to announce her candidacy? I've watched this public safely degrade in the city. All aspects of the city, there's no workable chain of command. I've had 26 years, I've never seen the city run worse. We've seen the 911 dispatch, we've seen the failures there. Everybody who wears a uniform, was aware of that. We of been ringing that alarm. This mayor knew about this, it was brought to his attention when he was the chair of the audit committee and 2013. This week we saw a result of tragedy. If you are our leader you are proactive and you are not reactive. What we see, instead of an apology from this mayor, we are seeing more statistics, we're seeing more reasons and excuses. I'm not about excuses. When you step up to the plate and solve problems. Did you really have to consider whether or not you wanted to be mayor? Is that why you waited until March to actually jump into the race? I think it's clear, I'm not a politician. I was appointed to city Council. There was a unique opportunity to make decisions based on the decision, not on the politics. I never thought I would be a politician, and I'm not now. I was a Marine, I was a lifeguard, I'm a homeowner, I'm a dad. Eymann joining my letter time and while -- in life. In the Marine Corps the teacher, -- teach you, when someone ahead of you fails, you need to step up. I love San Diego, I owe the citizens. I want to be the mayor, I want to represent people, not corporate entities. I don't want to use it as a stepping stone to go to Governor. I want to be here to make decisions that are long-lasting, that fix San Diego. It is very broken. As you mentioned, Ed Harris, you were writing about the 911 dispatcher shortage, before the recent tragedy that we experienced in Mira Mesa. When I had Michaels to cut, the head of the municipal city workers union, he was very effusive in his praise of how Kevin Faulconer has handled the situation and has tried to increase the number of dispatchers and their benefits and their pay. What's the disconnect between you and that union leader? I have a lot of respect for Mike. They will back who they endorsed, first. They are the largest union in the city. At the end of the day, no one in the city is having the problems that we see. There are articles put out there, we had Enron by the sea, we've had other scandals. I want San Diego to be a city where people are proud of. Everybody knew about them, we took an oath to protect the public. We need to protect the public. We need to make sure that we make decisions that do that. It's no different, public safety whether it's the water quality in Flint Michigan or if it's 911 and we have a single mom, sitting in a bedroom, because there's a home invasion. And she is on hold for five minutes, that's unacceptable. We need to be honest with the public. It's being hidden here. What would you do to recruit more dispatchers in the city of San Diego? Prop be is the way to land. You have to come pre--- create a competitive salary. Now that it's a crisis, Kevin Faulconer is backtracking. We still have dispatchers leaving. I was at the budget meeting today, there's nothing in this mayor's budget that was presented to counsel and reviewed by the committee today to fix the problem. I would have and I will immediately, stabilize dispatch. They are going to trust me. I'm one of them. The people that I work with, they are going to trust me, I'm going to give them the straight scoop, we will move forward. Kevin Faulconer supports the rebuild proposition on the June ballot as a way to fund infrastructure. You call the proposal a budget shell game. How would you find the over $1 billion that we need as infrastructure repair gap? That's the money you need for dispatchers in the future. That's money you need for police officers in the future. We are at a $1.4 billion budget short fall. What he is presented is a $200 million solution that robs Peter to pay Paul. Kevin has been incapable of spending the 120 millions we bonded two years ago, only 20 million of that is encumbered and $9 million has been allocated. There is $80 million that is system is so backwards that they can't spend the money. There's a lot of things we can do without right now. We can fix police station so they are not walking through sewage. We can fix Balboa Park. You have to have management. That's what I bring to the table. I've been in the city for 26 years. Would you support a tax or bond measure to get is over that $1.4 billion gap? I believe we bring in enough money in the city. The problem is it's the same as national politics. The politicians that want to go to higher office sell lands out for pennies on the dollar. There was a $75 million giveaway with Belmont Park. I sent this deal to an independent audit. You have to handle your assets, look at how your spending and do it for the right reasons. If you look at Kevin's donations, the million dollars, you don't get that without promising things. You look at the sponsors on one ST, those are the people that got lucrative deals. You bring in the assets, bond now. The fact that we are not bonding while money is cheap means that they are going to wait, once interest rates go up this will be doubled cost. This will go from a 1.4 billion problem to a $2.8 billion problem in a short amount of time. Mayor Kevin Faulconer has not said whether or not he was going to support the charges plan to build a new downtown Stadium. What do you support? The Chargers supported the citizens plan before they came up with their own initiative. That plan is one that I support. Don Frye is someone who has looked after the tax fries. It protects Mission Valley. It protects them from Kevin selling it or giving it to developers. They want to put condos in there. It creates a spot for higher education and allows for parkland. I believe we can work transit hub into there to solve some issues in Mission Valley. My focus is there, I love the Chargers, there is a path for the charges to pay their way, to pay their share and get a stadium bill. You have to have someone that leads the coalition and doesn't continue to not take a stand or continue to not make a decision. So you support the initiative, are you against the Chargers initiative? I'm totally for the citizens initiative, I can't support a initiative that gives all the tax money to one facility. The citizens initiative, there's $18 million for the general fund that we can bond against today. We can start taking care of infrastructure. Those are real dollars into our neighborhoods. Fixing the roads, not putting a thin layer of asphalt over the roads and pretending that the fix, going in and fixing the pipes, fixing the road so it will last into the future. You launched a website called where's Kevin. What's the what point of that? Where's -- Kevin can't make a decision. On large decisions like infrastructure, Sandag is a big part of that, Kevin didn't go to any of those meetings for 15 months. That money could've been used for transit, that's billions of dollars that comes into San Diego. He should've used his vote on that to bring transit into San Diego. He waited until the last minute to go in and vote no so he can say he voted against taxes when he runs for governor. Where's lays out numerous issues, 911, the Chargers issues come up funding for infrastructure, all of those are designed to show people he can't make a decision. Is paralyzed from the money he's taken through the years of the different people who way into his decision or it's just not in his DNA to make a decision. Sue you would've voted yes on the proposal to put a half cent sales tax on the pilot -- ballot to support San Diego? No. The problem is if I was there, I would've crafted a deal that would've gotten environmentalists on board, the other cities on board and it would have brought millions of dollars to a weighted vote into our economy and move this forward on the climate action plan. Not to simply passed a piece of paper with no attempt to enforce. Showing up the last vote to vote, know and not being there for meetings is unacceptable. Finally. You launched her candidacy late in the game, you are behind in fundraising. What do you see is your path to victory? I think you are looking at the 36 months ago that would've made sense. Right now we have Trump as a nominee for the GOP. We have Bernie and Hillary who are bringing out votes. We expect this race to be more like a presidential primary. It's going to favor the Democrats. I don't have $1 million in which I had 1 million promises, people know I will step in and make decisions that are good for San Diego. I've been seeking the San Diego mayoral candidate Ed Harris and for all of KPBS election coverage.

The man who briefly took over Kevin Faulconer's City Council seat after Faulconer became San Diego’s mayor in a special election in 2014 now wants to unseat the mayor.

Ed Harris, a Democrat who heads the city's lifeguards union, decided in March to challenge Republican Faulconer in his re-election bid. Harris told KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday that he hasn’t seen the city run worse in 26 years, citing as an example the recent controversy over the shortage of 911 dispatchers.


“Everybody who wears a uniform was aware of that. We have been ringing up the alarm,” Harris said. “Certainly, this mayor knew about this in 2013. … If you’re a leader, you’re proactive — not reactive.”

The San Diego County Democratic Party is backing Harris, but he’s far behind Faulconer on fundraising and faces an uphill battle in trying to oust the incumbent.

So is there a path to victory?

“Right now, we have Trump as the nominee for the GOP,” Harris said. “We have Bernie (Sanders) and Hillary (Clinton) bringing out votes. We expect this race to be more like the presidential primary. It's going to favor the Democrats.”

Harris added: “People know I'm going to step in. I'm going to make decisions that are good for San Diego and I'm going to move us forward.”


Note: Midday Edition featured segments this week with mayoral candidates Kevin Faulconer, Lori Saldaña and Ed Harris. Click here for the interview with Faulconer, and here for the interview with Saldaña.