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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

A Large Field Of Candidates Vying For The 53rd Congressional District Seat

Speaker 1: 00:01 Democratic Congresswoman Susan Davis. Surprised many. When she announced last year. She was retiring from her 53rd district seat, but it didn't take long for more than a dozen candidates to jump into the race to take her place. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman introduces us to some of the candidates looking to fill her seat. Speaker 2: 00:20 The 53rd congressional district covers a large part of the County, including sections of San Diego, El Cahone and Chula Vista. Speaker 3: 00:26 I joined the Marine Corps, earn the rank of captain and deployed as a combat engineer. Speaker 2: 00:30 Credit candidate. Janessa gold Beck left the Marine Corps in August and before that was a human rights advocate. Gold Beck says voters are most worried about the high cost of housing. Speaker 4: 00:38 That experience of trying to find a place to live and be able to afford a a neighborhood with a good schools and access to easy transportation. You know, that's, that's tough for a lot of people. I think people are concerned about that. I'm also hearing a lot of folks talk about the climate crisis in California and San Diego especially. We are at the forefront of feeling the effects of climate change, whether it's wildfires in our canyons and uh, right up the road or the effects of coastal, uh, rising sea levels on our coastal communities and our installations. Speaker 2: 01:08 Gold also says her votes in Congress won't be bought by big donors. Speaker 4: 01:11 The reason why Congress hasn't been able to make progress on issues that a lot of Americans care about and agree on like passing universal background checks for gun sales is because members of Congress are bought off by special interests. So I will be a consistent voice always asking who's behind what piece of legislation and why. Second, tackling the climate crisis, we've talked a little bit about it so far, but really the effects are being felt here in San Diego. And it's important that we address the number one threat to our national security, which is climate Speaker 3: 01:39 neat Democrats [inaudible] her approach, listen to everyone, take the best ideas, do the work. She did that at Obama state department. Speaker 2: 01:47 Jacob's unsuccessfully ran for the 49th congressional seat in 2016. She's also worked as an advocate to end childhood poverty. Here are the issue. She says voters in the district care most about. Speaker 5: 01:56 One is climate change and the urgent threat that it poses, uh, especially from young people who are very concerned about the world that they're going to be living in. Another is gun violence. I can't tell you how many young people and parents I've talked to who are so afraid to send their kids to school every single day. And then of course, we know here in San Diego we have a crisis of the cost of living, um, both in housing and in healthcare Speaker 2: 02:20 if elected. Jacob says she'll take a leadership role in shaping the nation's foreign policy, Speaker 5: 02:25 really looking at how we can make sure that we are making the world more peaceful and keeping American safe. And I think there's a way to do that without getting us into endless Wars without us being the world's policemen. Another issue, uh, that we hear a lot from voters and that I'm very passionate about is affordable childcare. I think we need to set a national goal that no family pays more than 10% of their income on childcare. Speaker 3: 02:48 I'm on it. I haven't taken it and they have character. Speaker 2: 02:51 One of the few Republican candidates in the race is famela Ramos who recently lost a bid for a school board seat in Chula Vista. She's worked as a nurse and the hospitality industry. These are the issues she says voters are talking to her about Speaker 5: 03:03 bread and butter issues, jobs, taxes, things like that. Family, family values. I think, you know, I feel in this district that I'm underrepresented, especially in family values. Speaker 2: 03:15 She has a number of priorities. If elected, Speaker 5: 03:17 I want to address immigration, border security, healthcare and education. I really think the health, um, third party should be left out of the decision making process. It should be like patient doctor interaction. I think we should base healthcare costs on the free market. I think prices should be transparent. Speaker 6: 03:35 I will never forget the issues that people are live every single day because that's what I come from. Speaker 2: 03:41 Democratic candidate, Georgette Gomez is currently the San Diego city council president. She's grabbed endorsements from the state, democratic party and labor and healthcare unions. Here are the issues. She says voters want her to fight for Speaker 6: 03:52 housing. Affordability is a major issue. Education, access to better education. Job safety is important. Um, we do have a district that is a majority working class district. Speaker 2: 04:05 Gomez priorities include helping people get into a home they can actually afford. Speaker 6: 04:09 The resources that we get from our, from a department of housing is not enough. Uh, we have a section eight list waiting lists that is over 10 years. So we need to reform that. We need to ensure that we're prioritizing climate, that the cities are moving forward with their climate action plan. That's going to take resources. Speaker 2: 04:28 The 53rd is one of the bluest districts in San Diego County with Democrats outnumbering Republicans by about a two to one margin. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman joins me now. Matt, welcome. Hey Jay. So let's start with the latest major headline out of this race. Georgette Gomez was endorsed by a democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders. What else can you tell us about the significance of this endorsement? Right. I mean, obviously Bernie Sanders, a very high profile presidential candidate has a very large following even here in San Diego. I mean, we've seen him, uh, over the last, you know, two, three years. He's had a number of rallies here downtown near the waterfront, attracting a lot of people. Um, he did endorse Georgette Gomez, part of like, you know, about half a dozen endorsements, uh, across the United States for Congress. Uh, obviously a very big deal. He has a lot of followers. So what we'll see if it helps a Georgia in this race, there are more than a dozen candidates who qualified for the ballot in this race. Speaker 2: 05:17 And you've introduced us to the leading candidates, but is there a clear front runner in the race? Right. Obviously. So Susan Davis has held the CSUN 2001, so almost 20 years. Uh, when this opened up, like you said, more than a dozen candidates, there's going to be 15 on the ballot. One of them has dropped out when we talk about a clear front runner, uh, talking to a lot of the candidates, obviously there's some that have, you know, quote unquote name recognition. You have, uh, from the Jacobs family, Sarah Jacobs, you have Georgia Gomez current San Diego city council president. Um, even for Mel Ramos who ran for school board in Chulavista got about 30,000 votes. She didn't win. Um, but they, they feel like that there's not a whole lot of name recognition out there. So we're starting to see a lot of candidates, uh, put out ads. Sarah Jacobs putting out a lot of TV ads already so early, uh, just trying to get her name out there, trying to get her face out there. Speaker 2: 06:02 Um, so we talked about a clear front runner. Um, I think, I mean, talking to some of the candidates, they would say that they're the clear front runner, but it doesn't appear that there's a hard and fast clear front runner. I mean, Georgia Gomez, um, I guess you could call more of an establishment candidate has gotten a lot of endorsements obviously from the state democratic party, the County democratic party. Um, she's raising a lot of money. Sarah Jacobs is raising a lot of money. There's actually a fundraising deadline coming up, so we should know a lot more about that, um, at the end of the month as a fundraising deadline. So we'll see. Um, how much money these candidates are really pulling in and maybe get a better picture of who's the front runner. So how are these candidates reaching out to voters? Talking to at least these top four candidates? Speaker 2: 06:36 A lot of them, they say they're out there hitting the ground, knocking on doors. Uh, they want to talk to people and they want to reach across the aisle to, obviously there are, is a majority Republican or student or majority democratic district. Um, but they want to reach out to Republicans, lots of mailers going out. And then obviously like I said, you know, candidates are out there trying to get their name out there, trying to get their face out there. Sarah Jacobs launching a lot of TV as a barrage of TV ads early on here. Uh, trying to really get her her name out there. And then there's been a number of forums held by progressive groups, uh, where they, I mean, just last weekend they had a forum with 11 candidates in it. So a lot of stuff going on. Tell us more about Republican famila Ramos. Speaker 2: 07:12 What's your experience? Her experience? She is a, she was a registered nurse before this. Um, and uh, she, out of the three were registered Republicans who are running. She has raised the most money, um, as Everlast filing a little over $40,000 for this race as a little bit of experience running. Like I said, she ran for a school board seat in Chulavista, got about 30,000 votes. So she thinks she has some name recognition. Part of this district covers Chulavista. Um, obviously it is a heavy, um, democratic district. But like for example to three at the top three, I mean, if, you know, presume top three were saying Georgette Gomez, Sarah Jacobs, Janessa gold Beck. If they were to split the vote, then hypothetically a Republican could get in there and maybe a win in the primary. Okay. So that's her. But you know, among the Democrats, are there any major differences between them in terms of policy proposals? Speaker 2: 08:00 How do they differ? Right. You know, doing these interviews with these top four presumed top four candidates, we hear a lot of the same things. You know, making housing more affordable, getting people into a home, they can afford climate change, addressing the issue of climate change, the issue of gun violence. Uh, then you have some of the candidates, you know, taking on some of their own issues. Um, uh, Sarah Jacobs has always been an advocate for child poverty. You know, she says the parents here in San Diego are spending too much on childcare. She wants to change that. Uh, you have people like Georgette Gomez, former chair of the MTS board here in San Diego. Uh, transit's a big priority for her. She wants to go and bring transit dollars here to San Diego in addition, excuse me, in addition to housing dollars. Then you have people like Ramos who a much more traditional Republican, you know, she talked about enhancing border security, um, you know, privatizing the healthcare market. Speaker 2: 08:46 So there are some differences, especially when you go from, uh, the Democrats or the Republicans. Congresswoman Susan Davis has been recognized for her work with veterans and on the armed services committee. Are any of the candidates speaking about the issues facing the military community? Definitely Janessa gold BEC. Uh, she's a former Marine. She actually just left the Marine Corps last August, so freshly out. Um, she definitely recognizes, especially when we were talking when it comes to housing, um, how hard it is for veterans to be able to buy a house here. Um, and so she knows as a veteran, um, the, the issues that are on a service member's mind, so she's going to take that to Washington, didn't hear a whole lot from the other candidates. Candidates when we asked them about their priorities are really a whole lot about veterans. And you said there's, there's been a lot of interest in this race since Davis announced her plans to retire last year as Susan Davis endorsed any of these candidates. You know, as far as I can tell, she hasn't endorsed any of the candidates talking to them. It's unclear if she will, but it is something we're going to follow. Um, I do want to point out too that I know I mentioned a couple of times at this district is heavily democratic. Um, it's about a two to one margin. Uh, about 180,000 registered, um, uh, Democrats and then about 90,000 registered Republicans with a handful of independent voters too. I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, Matt Hoffman. Matt. Thank you. Thanks Jared.

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Democratic Rep. Susan Davis surprised many when she announced last year she was retiring from her 53rd Congressional District seat. But it did not take long for more than a dozen candidates to jump into the March primary race to take her place.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments