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Elliott Maintains Lead In Race To Be City’s Next Lawyer

Robert Hickey, middle, and Mara Elliott, right, speak at Politifest at San Diego State University, Sept. 24, 2016.
Robert Hickey, middle, and Mara Elliott, right, speak at Politifest at San Diego State University, Sept. 24, 2016.
City attorney candidate Mara Elliott speaks at the Westin Gaslamp Hotel, Nov. 8, 2016.
Nancee Lewis
City attorney candidate Mara Elliott speaks at the Westin Gaslamp Hotel, Nov. 8, 2016.

UPDATE: 6:38 a.m., Nov. 9, 2016:

Democrat Mara Elliott is leading in the race to be San Diego's next city attorney.

With 91 percent of precincts reporting, Elliott leads with 56.6 percent of the vote. Republican Robert Hickey has 43.4 percent of the vote. About 34,000 votes separated the two candidates.


UPDATE: 12:30 a.m., Nov. 9, 2016:

With nearly half of precincts reporting, Democrat Mara Elliott led in the race for city attorney with 57.3 percent of the vote. Republican Robert Hickey had 42.7 percent. About 25,000 votes separated the candidates.

UPDATE: 10:45 p.m., Nov. 8, 2016:

Mara Elliott maintained her lead in the race to become San Diego's next city attorney with 19 percent of the precincts reporting. With 59 percent of the votes, she lost less than a percentage point in the new count. Robert Hickey had 41 percent of the votes as of 10:41 p.m.

UPDATE: 8 p.m., Nov. 8, 2016:


Democratic candidate for city attorney Mara Elliott is leading in early results. At 8 p.m. she had 59.2 percent of the votes — predominantly from mail-in ballots. Republican competitor Robert Hickey had 40.8 percent of the vote.

Results will continue to trickle in throughout the night. The San Diego County Registrar of Voters estimates the 8 p.m. returns represent about a quarter of the San Diego electorate.

Original post:

San Diego voters will weigh in Tuesday on who will be the next city attorney: Democrat Mara Elliott or Republican Robert Hickey. The winner will replace current City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who is being termed out.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith speaks to the media at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego, Nov. 8, 2016.
Milan Kovacevic
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith speaks to the media at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego, Nov. 8, 2016.

While the race is the only remaining citywide election in San Diego, it has been relatively quiet. The two candidates have both attempted to frame the race around whose previous experience makes them more qualified for the job.

The city attorney gives legal advice to San Diego’s mayor, city council and other departments. He or she doesn’t set policy, and the office is nonpartisan.

Who is running?

Elliott works in the City Attorney's Office as a chief deputy and focuses on the city’s environment and audit committees.

She also worked as a lawyer for San Diego County and the San Diego Metropolitan Transit Development Board, and served as general counsel to community college and K-12 school districts.

RELATED: City Attorney Candidates Emphasize Experience, Not Issues

She lives in Scripps Ranch with her husband, their two sons and their rescue dog, Lily Mae.

Hickey is a deputy district attorney and focuses on gang violence prosecutions.

He’s worked as the assistant chief of the Gang Prosecution and Major Narcotics units, and has been the president of the San Diego County Deputy District Attorneys Association, which represents more than 300 attorneys.

Hickey also has civil law experience from private practice work 15 years ago.

He lives in Point Loma with his wife and their two children.

Who is supporting whom?

While Goldsmith did not make an endorsement in the race, both candidates have stacked up other support.

Elliott has endorsements from Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and California Attorney General Kamala Harris, as well as all of the Democratic congressional representatives from San Diego and all five of the Democrats on the San Diego City Council.

She was also endorsed by state assemblywomen Toni Atkins, Shirley Weber and

Lorena Gonzalez, and state Sen. Marty Block, all Democrats.

The San Diego City Firefighters union, Deputy City Attorneys Association of San Diego, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Sierra Club also support Elliott.

Hickey has endorsements from prominent Republicans, including Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Sheriff Bill Gore and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. Dumanis endorsed Hickey shortly after an ad from a political action committee attacked him for not having his boss's support.

He also has support from all four Republicans on the San Diego City Council, and Republican state Assemblyman Brian Maienschein.

The San Diego Police Officers Association, Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of San Diego County, San Diego Deputy District Attorneys Association and San Diego County Regional Chamber of Commerce also support him.

What are the issues?

In interviews with KPBS, neither of the candidates would name any issues that set them apart.

"It’s hard for me to say," Hickey said.

"I’m not very familiar with what his biggest issues are," Elliott said.

But they do stand apart on some things.

RELATED: San Diego City Attorney Candidates On The Issues

On police body camera footage, Elliott said it should be released immediately. Hickey said it should be released "at the appropriate time in the legal process." The decision ultimately resides with the district attorney.

On gun control, Elliot said she’d tighten the city’s laws on gun ownership. Hickey said he supports individual rights to carry weapons.

Elliott said the office needs to lead the city by studying changes to laws and that the city attorney should be out in front of the public.

"Sitting with the council at the dais, because people want to know who their city attorney is, and when you come for public comment you want to talk to the person who has the power in the office to make change," she said.

Hickey said he brings an outside perspective.

"Anyone who does business should have a better experience than they’ve had over, really, the last 16 years," he said. "They should decide if they want a fresh set of eyes — which I bring — to really do a reset of the City Attorney’s Office."