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Democrat Bry Finishes First In Council District 1 Race, Faces Ellis In Fall

The candidates and incumbent in City Council District 1. Clockwise from upper left: Barbara Bry, Ray Ellis, Louis Rodolico, Kyle Heiskala, Bruce Lightner and Sherri Lightner.
KPBS, Candidate Courtesy Photos
The candidates and incumbent in City Council District 1. Clockwise from upper left: Barbara Bry, Ray Ellis, Louis Rodolico, Kyle Heiskala, Bruce Lightner and Sherri Lightner.

Democrat Bry Finishes First In Council District 1 Race, Faces Ellis In Fall
High-tech entrepreneur Barbara Bry was just shy on Wednesday of the number of votes needed to claim a seat on the San Diego City Council, meaning she will have to compete in a November runoff election.
Democrat Bry Finishes First In Council District 1 Race, Faces Ellis In Fall
Democrat Bry Finishes First In Council District 1 Race, Faces Ellis In Fall GUEST: Barbara Bry, district 1 candidate, San Diego City Council

In the San Diego city Council District 1, Barbara [ Indiscernible Last Name ] almost one outright with 49 percent of the vote -- won outright with 49 percent of the vote. If things turn out differently she will face Ellis in a runoff in November. I spoke with her earlier today. What are you hearing about the number of ballots left to count and whether it will raise your percentage? Honestly, we have no idea how many ballots are still left to be counted. We don't know what precincts they are from so we don't know what the impact on the race will be. So, you are just content to wait it out and maybe just go into the runoff in November? We are ready to win it in November . I am in it for the long haul. We had built a great volunteer driven team. We are in it too win. If it means campaigning until November that is fine with us. The race got pretty intense with you denouncing many of the claims that Ellis made about your stance on the issues. Do you think that we are going to see more and that -- more of that if indeed this goes into a runoff in November? I trust the voters to know the difference between when a candidate is telling the truth and when a candidate is misrepresenting the facts. On the beginning, I have run a positive issue focused campaign. That is what we intend to do on our side. We contacted the Ray Ellis campaign and they declined to be interviewed for the show. Let me go to my analyst. This district 1 race is pivotal for the balance of political policy -- power in the city Council. What would a win by either party mean for the Council? With Barbara, she is probably going to win because she came in almost across the line. This wasn't the primary but in November it will be a Democratic electorate. Sherry was a soft Democrat and she got elected. It might solidify a more progressive opposition to Kevin Faulkner requiring him and the other Republicans to cooperate more. Of Mister Ellis wins, it will be easy to get a veto approved mayoral system in place because all you have to do is pick up one Democrat. The Mayor would be off with Ellis but he could do with Barbara. This was also another crazy race. We had the husband of Sherry [ Indiscernible Last Name ] jump into the race and we had one of her former staff members. How does that set up the election for November Thad There are fences that need to be mended on the Democratic side. And Barbara can get those votes, she walked to a strong victory in November but I think because this is the last remaining big competitive race with the mayor race also not in some of the other district races sewn up, all of the money in San Diego politics is going to be flowing down Mount solid at into district 1 -- solid dad into district 1. -- soledad into district 1.

UPDATE: 5:33 a.m., June 8, 2016

High-tech entrepreneur Barbara Bry was just shy on Wednesday of the number of votes needed to claim a seat on the San Diego City Council, meaning she will have to compete in a November runoff election.

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Supporters of Barbara Bry hold signs at Golden Hall in downtown San Diego, June 7, 2016. Bry will face Ray Ellis in a November runoff to represent District 1 on the San Diego City Council.
Nancee Lewis
Supporters of Barbara Bry hold signs at Golden Hall in downtown San Diego, June 7, 2016. Bry will face Ray Ellis in a November runoff to represent District 1 on the San Diego City Council.

In all, five seats on the nine-member panel were up for grabs in Tuesday's election. Candidates who received a majority of the votes won outright, otherwise the top two vote-getters advanced to a runoff in November.

According to the county Registrar of Voters Office, which released unofficial results early today after local precincts were counted, Bry was still shy of the 50 percent needed to win the seat outright, although it wasn't immediately clear if late or provisional ballots remained to be counted and might affect the outcome. Barring that, Bry will face businessman Ray Ellis in the November runoff.

Bruce Lightner, husband of Sherri Lightner, placed third in the race, followed by council staffer Kyle Heiskala and Louis Rodolico.

Ray Ellis speaks at the U.S. Grant, June 7, 2016. Ellis will face Barbara Bry in a November runoff to represent District 1 on the San Diego City Council.
Nancee Lewis
Ray Ellis speaks at the U.S. Grant, June 7, 2016. Ellis will face Barbara Bry in a November runoff to represent District 1 on the San Diego City Council.

The race for District 1 — which represents Carmel Valley, La Jolla and University City — will determine the balance of power on the technically nonpartisan panel.

Democrats cling to a 5-4 majority, which would be maintained with a Bry victory. Lightner, the council president, is being termed out after eight years.

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UPDATE: 1:10 a.m., June 8, 2016

At times Tuesday night, it looked like Democrat Barbara Bry might pull out an outright win in the San Diego City Council District 1 race, but in the end she fell just short of capturing more than 50 percent of the vote.

She received 49 percent of the votes and will now face Republican Ray Ellis in the November general election. He came in second with 34 percent of the votes. Three other challengers competed in the race.

"As you know, I was way outspent by Mr. Ellis and the special interests supporting him. ... And the good results are a tribute to the grass-roots, volunteer-driven effort that we’ve run," Bry told KPBS.

Earlier in the evening, when Ellis saw he was in second place, he told supporters he was "disappointed about early results, but it's a long night."

Now it's on to November for Bry and Ellis.

Supporters of Barbara Bry hold signs at Golden Hall in downtown San Diego, June 7, 2016. Bry will face Ray Ellis in a November runoff to represent District 1 on the San Diego City Council.
Nancee Lewis
Supporters of Barbara Bry hold signs at Golden Hall in downtown San Diego, June 7, 2016. Bry will face Ray Ellis in a November runoff to represent District 1 on the San Diego City Council.

UPDATE: 11:30 p.m. June 7, 2016

As the returns continue to come in, Democrat Barbara Bry remains out in front in the San Diego City Council District 1 race. With 30 percent of the votes counted, she was at 49.58 percent — just shy of having the majority to win the election outright.

Her nearest competitor was Republican Ray Ellis, with 34 percent of the vote.

UPDATE: 8:10 p.m. June 7, 2016

The two front-runners in the San Diego City Council District 1 race — Democrat Barbara Bry and Republican Ray Ellis — are out in front in early election returns.

With about 10 percent of the votes counted, Bry has just under 50 percent of the vote to Ellis' 34 percent. A candidate can win the race outright by getting more than 50 percent of the vote. With so few votes counted, it's too soon to say Bry will win.

Original post

San Diego City Council District 1 has been the source of the most aggressive campaigning this election season in the city. Likely front-runners Barbara Bry and Ray Ellis have exchanged accusations of misleading — or outright lying — to voters.

Much of the controversy centers on the Citizens' Plan for San Diego, which Bry supports and Ellis opposes. The initiative is trying to get on the November ballot, and would prohibit public money from being spent on a stadium for the San Diego Chargers. However, it could also make using private money to build a downtown stadium cheaper by clearing environmental hurdles and connecting it to an expansion of the San Diego Convention Center.

The Citizens' Plan also has support from some environmentalists because it reserves the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley for parkland and a campus expansion of UCSD and SDSU. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, a Republican, has sparred with the plan's author, activist attorney Cory Briggs, over whether the plan is legally defensible.

Big spending

Ellis, a Republican, has largely outraised and outspent Bry, a Democrat. Super PACs supporting Ellis also have bigger budgets than those supporting Bry.

Bry calls herself a high-tech entrepreneur. She co-founded an organization to support women in the life sciences and another nonpartisan group to support women in politics. Ellis calls himself a centrist and independent problem solver. He is a small-business owner who volunteers for a number of local charities and nonprofits.

The outcome in the district, which includes La Jolla, University City and Carmel Valley, is likely to decide which party has a majority on the City Council. Democrats currently have a 5-4 majority. The majority can elect a council president, who in turn controls the agendas at City Council meetings.

Bry and Ellis were the only two candidates in the race up until a few weeks before the filing deadline to enter the race. Then, in a last-minute rush that raised eyebrows among some local politicos, the candidate pool grew to five.

Louis Rodolico, a retired hospital architect, has made the Regents Road bridge his campaign centerpiece. The bridge has been planned for decades as a way to reduce traffic congestion and boost emergency response times in the area. Opposition from some residents and environmental groups has all but killed the plans. Rodolico is a Democrat.

Kyle Heiskala, a recent UCSD graduate who serves on incumbent Sherri Lightner's staff, has focused on public transportation, climate change and inspiring more young people to get involved in politics. Heiskala is an independent.

Bruce Lightner, an engineer and husband of termed-out District 1 incumbent Sherri Lightner, a Democrat, has promised to continue his wife's policies. Lightner is a Republican and insists he entered the race to win. But his absence from several community forums has come under fire from Ellis and the county GOP. Both have suggested he entered the race to force the election into a November runoff, when voter turnout has historically favored Democrats.

City election rules allow a candidate who wins more than 50 percent of the vote in June to bypass the November election. Otherwise, the two who finish first and second square off in November.

The 2024 primary election is March 5. Find in-depth reporting on each race to help you understand what's on your ballot.