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Scott Sherman Discusses Bid For San Diego Mayor

 January 28, 2020 at 8:34 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:01 The president's lawyers conclude their defense today at the Senate impeachment trial. We'll bring you NPRs live coverage of the trial starting at 10:00 AM but first we're going to turn to San Diego's race for mayor. It looked for a while as if the contest for mayor would not have a well known Republican in the race, but just before the filing deadline, Councilman Scott Sherman who represents district seven decided to run with Malin voting starting next week on election day on March 3rd we're speaking with the top four candidates for San Diego mayor and today we welcome Councilman Sherman. Welcome to the show. Thank you. There was speculation that you became a candidate just to have a Republican presence in the mayor's race. Is there any truth to that? Speaker 2: 00:44 No, not really. I mean, my wife and I were really looking forward to going back to the private sector and a life of anonymity after seven years of doing this, but literally every time my wife and I for the last couple of months would go out in public. We'd get stopped by two or three people saying, Hey, are you going to run? We need you to run, please run. I mean one time we were putting gas in the boat down at the Bay and the sardine boat was next to us filling up gas and the captain came down from the Hill and walked out on the deck and asked me to run. Then the Harbor patrol was filling up their boat. Two guys from over there came over and asked me to run. So my wife and I were camping in the desert over Thanksgiving and had a long conversation and decided, well I think this is something we kind of have to do. We were asked to run the first time I got into this race, I didn't look to get into politics and it was kind of playing out the same way for mayor as well. Speaker 1: 01:32 Why do you want to be San Diego mayor though? Speaker 2: 01:34 Um, I think we need to change the conversation on a few things that we are doing here in San Diego, mostly around homelessness and around housing. I don't think we're, I mean we're moving somewhat in the right direction, but we're missing part of the conversation. Speaker 1: 01:47 Okay. So what in your opinion is stopping more housing from being built in San Diego? Speaker 2: 01:53 Um, I think it's twofold. I think politicians a lot of times who haven't been in the private sector look to government to solve the housing problem. And when 47% of the cost of building housing is government regulation and red tape, I think if we look to incentivize the marketplace we can see more production of affordable housing, middle income housing. Because right now with the cost of building housing here in San Diego, it forces home builders to build either luxury units cause they gotta make their money back at, you know, expensive, expensive amounts or they take the incentives that we've put in place for taxpayer subsidize affordable housing. We are missing that missing middle someplace to go once you get out of affordable housing and get into the middle. I mean both of my kids have moved out of the state because they can't afford housing. Speaker 1: 02:42 What's your stand on the push for higher density housing in the city? Speaker 2: 02:46 I'm all for it. Especially around mass transit corridor is it makes all the sense in the world. And it can concentrate on that middle market. Next step in the economic ladder type housing and, and that's really where the problem is. Those people on subsidized housing can't move out. The people waiting to get into subsidized housing end up on the streets cause they're waiting so long. Speaker 1: 03:07 Okay, so one pushes for a higher density housing in the city and other is for more alternative transportation. Now you're not really a fan of more bike lanes in this city, but how do we reach our climate action goals if we don't get more people out of their cars? Speaker 2: 03:22 Well, I'm okay with bike lanes. I mean even in Linda Vista, we're approving a bike lane. I'm here pretty soon. But the key component of that, it doesn't take away parking spaces and it doesn't take away car lanes because as it stands right now, well into the high 90 percentile of people still take a car to work. We need to try and make it easier for people to choose alternative transportation, but we can't do it at the expense of people who take their car. Speaker 1: 03:47 Do you then think the city of San Diego needs a a better master plan for public transportation? Speaker 2: 03:53 I think we need more flexibility and more thought about the public transportation and those types of things. There's not a lot of flexibility built in right now and that's usually some of the problems we see in government a lot is, okay, here's what we've decided, here's what it is, and it doesn't take into account any kind of conditions on the ground that may change. Speaker 1: 04:13 Now you've said that you think the missing piece to addressing homelessness in San Diego is increased enforcement. What do you mean by that? Speaker 2: 04:21 Well, we've done a lot on the compassion side. We've built tent shelters, we've done affordable housing, permanent supportive housing, different services, navigation centers, everything we can to try and get people to help that they need, but a lot of times what we haven't been concentrating on are the consequences side. I mean, we've been doing a ton of the compassion side, but nothing on the consequences side. And so many times if there's no consequences, then it just becomes enabling people, especially the drug addicted types that we see in the river bed and those types of things. It enables them to keep doing what they're doing. I mean, I talked to a guy, Brian, which is over at Zephyr, which is a permanent supportive housing for veterans. He came up to me at the ribbon cutting and thanked me for breaking up the tents downtown. He said, look, I was in those tents shooting meth in my veins every day. Speaker 2: 05:06 He says, it wasn't till the city came in and broke it up and said I had to do something else. From there he went to the shelter, he got a case worker, found benefits he didn't know he had as a veteran. And the next thing you know, he's lived in a sobriety program, living in permanent supportive housing. And now he's 11 months clean and sober. We were down at the river, uh, Alvarado Creek right behind Zephyr on a different issue. And there was Brian picking up trash alongside of the river and he looks over and just waved and said, still giving back buddy. I mean, those are the kinds of success stories that you can have if you're willing to say it's not compassionate to let you keep doing what you're doing. We need to try and make a change. Speaker 1: 05:44 We have a federal court ruling now that says cities can't ticket people for living on the street unless the city can provide shelter for them. We don't have enough shelter beds in the city. So what's your priority? Shelter, beds or tickets? Speaker 2: 05:58 Uh, both. We need more shelter beds so we can have more places for them to go. San Diego is actually kind of been ahead of a lot of the other cities when putting in shelter beds and those types of places to get people out of the shelters to their next step. I think we need to do a little bit more of both. We need to do it in every district. The council has committed to doing it in every district, but if I look at districts one in five, there's no permanent supportive housing been built. There's nothing permitted. There's nothing in the pipeline in district seven in my district where I've been for seven years, which is North of the aid, we've put in over 170 permanent supportive housing. We have stuff in the pipeline, stuff that's permitted. It needs to be in every district because it's a citywide problem that needs to be addressed on a citywide level. Speaker 1: 06:38 Now, Scott Sherman, it was well known that you had a countdown clock in your office counting down the time that you end your city council term, but now you've decided to run for mayor. I'm wondering what aspects of holding public office do you dislike Speaker 2: 06:54 on the council side? What I really have grown to dislike is politics gets involved in everything and you're running a city's not supposed to be political. There's, it's supposed to be nonpartisan, but I mean, I've literally shook hands with somebody and five minutes later they'll turn around and do the exact opposite. Well after 27 years in the private sector, my word is my bond. That's all you have at the end of the day, and that doesn't exist in council. I've even seen people vote against measures that they have sponsored because the right political pressure was put in place. Speaker 1: 07:24 Do you think that things would be different if you were mayor? Speaker 2: 07:27 Yeah, I mean from on the mayor site it's completely different. You're not working with nine different people. You are more worried about the nuts and bolts, labor negotiations, those types of things that run the city. You're not having to deal with nine individuals on the policy side of of getting things done. It's more about making an organization run efficient and giving the taxpayers the best bang for their buck. Speaker 1: 07:48 I've been speaking with a Councilman, Scott Sherman of district seven he's running for San Diego mayor. I appreciate your coming in and speaking with us. Speaker 2: 07:55 Pleasure anytime.

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It looked for a while as if the contest for San Diego mayor would not have a well-known Republican in the race. But just before the filing deadline, Councilman Scott Sherman, who represents District 7, decided to run.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments