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LATEST UPDATES: Election 2020: Live Results | Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice

Last Day To Register To Vote In San Diego County

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY MATTHEW BOWLER

Above: A voter casts her ballot during early voting at the San Diego County Of Registrars Office on Oct. 7, 2020.

Monday is the deadline for San Diego County residents to register to vote in the Nov. 3 election. Plus, candidates for the County Board of Supervisors’ District 3 show little common ground. This seat will likely determine the political majority of the board. And City Attorney Mara Elliot touts her work on gun regulations and cracking down on domestic abuse while competitor Cory Briggs says she lacks transparency and is too political. Plus, two democrats, Nora Vargas and Ben Hueso, are vying for a County Supervisor seat that’s been in GOP hands for decades. And KPBS examines different approaches to tallying available hospital beds. Finally, reformed white supremacists talk about their transformations to becoming people who promote empathy and inclusivity in new documentary "Love Wins Over Hate."

Speaker 1: 00:00 Today is the deadline to register her a ballot in the November 3rd election.

Speaker 2: 00:05 My highest of recommendations is to register by midnight today.

Speaker 1: 00:10 I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Alison st. John. This is KPBS day edition.

Speaker 2: 00:24 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:25 Stakes raised for the San Diego board of supervisors is playing out in district three.

Speaker 2: 00:30 The Democrats would take a three to two majority on the County board of supervisors for the first time in a, in a generation.

Speaker 1: 00:37 I look at the issues and candidates in the race for San Diego city attorney and a new documentary traces. The journey out of hate made by several former white supremacists that's ahead on mid day to day. Today is the deadline to register, to vote and receive a ballot in the mail for the November election, which makes it a good day for our mid day edition voter cram session to begin now that we are only 15 days out until election day questions about how to participate in this pandemic altered election are becoming crucial, but from the volume of ballots already received in San Diego voter enthusiasm is at record levels. Johnny made a San Diego County, rich of voters, Michael VU, and Michael, welcome to the program.

Speaker 2: 01:34 Thanks for having me Marie

Speaker 1: 01:35 Voters, who haven't registered yet can register today online. Is that right?

Speaker 2: 01:41 That's correct. If an individual is not registered to vote for this upcoming election, they can go to SD vote.com where they can select a registered to vote button that's found on our website

Speaker 1: 01:53 And how do people find out if they are registered

Speaker 2: 01:57 Also on our website is a check your voter registration link, where they can put in their house number, their zip code, as well as their birth date of birth and their profile should come up. If they, their profile doesn't come up, they can certainly also give us a call at (858) 565-5800 to find out whether or not they're registered about now. If they're not, uh, they can go to, again, that same website, SD vote.com to register.

Speaker 1: 02:21 And if someone misses today's deadline, can they still vote on November 3rd?

Speaker 2: 02:26 They can. Uh, the law has been passed by the state legislature, as well as the governor for a couple of years now where a person can conditionally registered to vote and vote provisionally, uh, same day by going to here at the registrar voters office after the October 19th deadline, or, uh, go to their assigned a super polls location starting on October 31st. Uh, and we'll, we'll have 235 super polling locations throughout the entire County for a person to register and vote same day. Um, it's not recommended particularly with a pandemic that is out there is because it takes a time. It takes time to register, and then it takes time to receive that ballot and, and vote and all the additional paperwork that they would need to fill out. We really do want voters to avoid any level of crowding individuals that want to participate in this upcoming election. My highest of recommendations is to register by midnight today.

Speaker 1: 03:22 Tell us about how many people have already returned their ballots in San Diego.

Speaker 2: 03:28 We are at historic numbers. As you mentioned, Moraine, we have over 430,000 individuals that have returned their mail bout back to our office. Uh, this time in 2016, uh, we're over 300 to 400% more than what we saw in that election. So, uh, we have a record number of individuals that have participated, uh, in already in the election. I'm heartened to hear the total number of people that are returning back, uh, their respective ballots, whether it's through the us postal service, uh, or at any one of our mailbox drop off locations. So I'm hard to know that voters are taking keyed and our recommendations to vote safer in this election because of the pandemic and to return their ballots as soon as possible after they've made their selections. I think voters have been really wanting to vote. I think that a number of people have been just ready and they've just been waiting for us to send them their respect to ballots. And now that they have it within their hands, we know that there are hundreds of thousands of these mail bouts that are, have come back thus far and many more to go. Uh, 400,000 only represents a fraction of everything that we sent out and through the governor's executive order, every single mail ballot, a voter actually every active registered voter in our County will receive a mail ballot in this upcoming election.

Speaker 1: 04:41 Right now we've heard about a controversy surrounding unofficial ballot drop off boxes, distributed by Republicans in California. Are there any of those boxes here in San Diego?

Speaker 2: 04:52 We have not heard of any unofficial mail ballot. Drop-off boxes here in San Diego County.

Speaker 1: 04:58 Okay. All right then. So that's, that's one thing we can tick off. Now, you're already in the process of counting those ballots that have been returned, aren't you?

Speaker 2: 05:06 We are, the legislature actually passed a new law. It was urgent legislation granting us the ability, not just to signature, verify the envelope against the signature on file, but after it's been verified to open it, to scan the ballot inside our tabulation system, as soon as we receive it, normally we have to wait until tomorrow to be able to extract the ballot outside of the envelope and scan the ballot inside the tabulation system. So we've been actually verifying signatures as well as scanning and balance. As soon as we've received bounce back from voters,

Speaker 1: 05:41 No voting in person is different this year. Can you run us through how and where voting in person is taking place?

Speaker 2: 05:48 That's correct. Uh, this is, uh, one of the things that we've been trying to express and communicate to the, to the public is the major changes that this cycle has particularly with, uh, the pandemic itself. Number one, every act of registered voters is going to receive a mail ballot. We know that hundreds of thousands of voters, uh, have returned their mail ballots. Uh, the second component of that is how voters will vote at a polling place. It should, they need to vote at a polling place, or they want to vote at a polling place. Um, we will have as opposed to 1600 neighborhood polling place precincts, uh, we will have 235 super polls, low occasions. The difference here is, is that, uh, although we will have fewer of these respective locations that are going to be much larger and they're going to be open for a four day window as opposed to a one day window.

Speaker 2: 06:38 Normally when we conduct an election for election day, it's only open for a 13 hour window on election day here in this upcoming election, those 235 super polls locations. We'll be starting to be open on October 31st and they will run all the way through APM on November 3rd. So a four day period. So I would see this election as more of a trade off, but it's really important for the voters to know that. And so we sent out a communications to every single registered voter in August. We continue to message and communicate it through all the various traditional means whether it's newspaper or radio or social media, uh, now, um, as well as digital ads that people receive, as well as all the various local newspapers, uh, about the changes in this upcoming election and particularly, uh, for in-person voting, knowing that these 235 sites will be outfitted with all the necessary personal protective equipment that voters and the public is used to seeing at any place that they normally go to and venture off to whether that's the grocery store, Costco's your Starbucks.

Speaker 2: 07:41 Similar formats will be occurring at the 235 Superbowls locations, including masks and gloves and face shields and plexiglass sneeze guards. That will be there as well as social distancing protocols, as well as cleaning protocols that our poll workers will be trained on. Our poll workers will be trained this week. All 3,500 of our poll workers will start to be trained this week. It's a two day training as opposed to a two hour training, all of this because of the changes that we are making, but also all the necessary information that they need to be well equipped with to ensure that our voters themselves, as well as our staff are voting safely in this upcoming election.

Speaker 1: 08:23 And I've been speaking with San Diego County registrar of voters, Michael VU, Michael, as always thank you so much.

Speaker 2: 08:29 Thanks Marie.

Speaker 1: 08:41 The outcome could change the political balance of the San Diego County board of supervisors for the first time in recent memory. It's the race for County supervisor in the third district, incumbent Republican Christian gas faces, Democrat

Speaker 3: 08:56 Terra, Lawson reamer, a first time candidate and an economist who worked in the Obama administration, KPBS reporter. Steve Walsh has the story.

Speaker 4: 09:05 The world changed dramatically after the March 3rd primary, right after the two candidates were chosen for the general election. COVID-19 thrust the County health system into the spotlight at times. Incumbent Kristin gas bar has been at odds with the County still very early on in the pandemic in June gas bar was publicly calling for the County to loosen restrictions on backyard gatherings.

Speaker 3: 09:28 It is really easy to look back at any point in time during this pandemic response and point to okay, we'll in this month, uh, we may have felt a different way, but we've learned a lot over time,

Speaker 4: 09:40 Still pushing for San Diego County to make its own reopening plan. As the virus continues to spread,

Speaker 3: 09:45 We need our local control back from the governor. California is a large diverse state and the thought that we can treat every County exactly the same way with this peanut butter approach is the wrong one.

Speaker 4: 09:59 Gas bar says she suspended her campaign during the summer to concentrate on the COVID-19 response. She says, that's one reason why, even as an incumbent, she's trailing her challenger, Terra Lawson, reamer, and fundraising early on Lawson Riemer, who is an attorney in college professor at UCS D says she repurposed her phone bank so they could perform wellness checks for seniors in the district. Lawson reamer is also critical of the county's response, but for a different reason, not having enough staff on hand to handle the pandemic, even after a hepatitis, a outbreak two years ago,

Speaker 3: 10:35 But they just didn't have the resources. There had been an underinvestment in staff for so long that they, they just were not able to keep up with the demand and they just did an extraordinary job with the limited resources they had. So that frankly fundamentally falls on, um, you know, the prior leadership and the County board

Speaker 4: 10:55 Aside from potentially turning the board of supervisors from red to blue. The third district is likely to tip the balance of power on the regional planning agency, SANDAG where gas bar now has a seat. SANDAG is creating a 30 year plan, which concentrates on mass transit and moves away from road widening projects, gas bar. Once those road projects,

Speaker 3: 11:16 How much more are we willing to dedicate solely into mass transit while continuing to ignore the rest? How about we start looking at a balanced way to make those investments?

Speaker 4: 11:28 Climate change plan is ended up in court. Lawson reamer is running on replacing it with what she calls the gold standard of climate change plans, but she hasn't taken a position on sandbags plan.

Speaker 3: 11:40 First thing you have to do is a feasibility study. You know, how's this going to impact how we live and work? Is it really going to bring the solutions that we need to, to our community? Um, and then as well as an economic study, you know, what's going to be the impact economically in terms

Speaker 1: 11:54 Of job creation

Speaker 4: 11:55 In the latest campaign finance report, Lawson reamer brought in an extra $162,000, more than gas bar actors, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin recently held a virtual fundraiser for her Lawson. Reamer says Fonda is supporting candidates who take a strong stance to stop climate change. During the recent debate, gas bar criticized the amount of money coming in from these service employees, international union local two 21 saying the union is trying to take over the board of supervisors.

Speaker 1: 12:24 This is not the time to siphon precious tax dollars, Uber to labor union bosses.

Speaker 4: 12:31 All of a sudden reamer says she's proud of her union support. Instead Lawson Rieber continues to hammer away at gas bars support of the Trump administration, including trips to the white house.

Speaker 1: 12:41 My opponent has been a strong supporter of Donald Trump since day. Number one was one of his earliest endorsement.

Speaker 4: 12:48 The district runs up the coast from Solana beach to Encinitas and up to 15 from the eighth to Escondido once reliably Republican and now has more registered Democrats. The third district is the best hope for Republicans to hold a three to two majority on the County board of supervisors. After a second seat, one to Democrats in the primary,

Speaker 1: 13:09 Joining me is KPBS reporter Steve Walsh and Steve welcome.

Speaker 4: 13:14 Hi Maureen

Speaker 1: 13:15 District three already switched from Democrat to Republican in 2016. When Dave Roberts was defeated by Christian gas bar, why would a switch back to Democrat be such a big deal this time?

Speaker 4: 13:29 Because this time around Maureen, uh, the Democrats would take a three to two majority on the County board of supervisors for the first time in a, in a generation. Now the second district and the fifth district, they're already very solidly Republican. They're expected to remain that way, but the remaining two seats that seat that covers the South Bay, the first district, uh, is really a race between two Democrats at this point, making the third district, the swing district here, the decider for this election.

Speaker 1: 13:58 Okay, well, besides the county's climate action plan and the County is handling of the Corona virus, what are some of the other issues in this race?

Speaker 4: 14:07 Well, homelessness is a huge issue. Um, it's still related to the, to the Corona virus. The County will have to decide what to do with the people who are living in the convention center right now, gas bar objected to a plan that, uh, would, uh, w where the County was going to apply for state funds to buy a hotel in Lamesa, uh, to house homeless. After the local officials objected. Now, Lawson reamer says that she would have supported that idea. They both want to put more money into more longterm solutions to keep people from returning to the streets though gas bar has criticized Lawson reamer saying that that Lawson reamer at least thinks that the County has enough money to fund just about any project and that she's not being fiscally constrained. Well, as

Speaker 1: 14:52 You told us, Kristen gas bar was an early occasionally ardent supporter of president Trump. The president is not widely popular in San Diego. So how much of an issue is Trump in this campaign?

Speaker 4: 15:05 Oh, well, it's, it's a huge issue. Lawson reamer has tried to tie a guest bar to the Trump administration, really, since the beginning of the campaign. Now, Trump is still popular among his base, but this really is not shaping up to be a base election. So the Republicans can't get gas bar over the hump in a district that is now majority Democrat, and there's a lot of enthusiasm on the part of Democrats to remove Trump from office. So gas bar has tried to distance herself from Trump while Lawson reamer keeps hammering away in mailers and other and other opportunities to tie her to the Trump administration. As you can imagine, given the district Gaspar has tried to paint herself as more of a moderate who will work with anyone Republican or Democrat saying that she has supported working with the governor and, uh, and her fellow fellow supervisors.

Speaker 4: 15:56 The problem is that she hasn't done that in some very high profile cases, supporting the lawsuits like, uh, we've seen supporting the Trump administration's position on immigration, and she spent a lot of time on COVID-19 response, but mainly she's been out there as a voice for reopening faster than the state and the rest of the supervisor's support. So it's making it harder for her to be seen as a moderate. And it's making her a little, a little easier for Lawson reamer to painter, as someone who is tied to a unpopular policies by the Trump administration,

Speaker 1: 16:30 Besides climate activists, like Fonda and Tomlin, who's endorsing Terra, Lawson dreamer.

Speaker 4: 16:36 She has a tremendous amount of a union support from SEI, you and the other unions unions. Um, she has the governor. She has a Nathan Fletcher, uh, supervisor and Loraina Gonzalez. You know, again, you know, guest bar has claimed that, uh, that she will work with R's and D's even putting Nathan Fletcher in an ad and Fletcher and Lawson reamer responded with a press conference where Fletcher said the gas bar is actually very difficult to work with. So you, uh, you can tell where we're Nathan Fletcher support lies.

Speaker 1: 17:05 Why is there such a fundraising difference between gas bar and Lawson Raymer gas bar as the incumbent would normally be way ahead in fundraising? Is it really because gas bar took a break from campaigning for a couple of months?

Speaker 4: 17:18 Well, I mean, that's what she claims they they're both doing well. Lawson reamer has a superPAC set up by FCIU. Now that's helped her gas bar has an influx actually of about 20 over $25,000 from the County GOP. That's helping gas bar Lawson reamer is, is from a politically well-known family. Now she's a first time candidate herself. It is certainly helped her in fundraising, her, her family as well known in democratic circles. Her father, Larry is a well known consultant. People like Tony Atkins and Susan David say they first met Lawson reamer as a child.

Speaker 5: 17:53 Now back in 2016 supervisory district threes, the results there were too close to call for more than a week after the election is the situation in this same place that we could be heading into that kind of situation again.

Speaker 4: 18:09 Well, maybe, but, you know, Roberts was in the middle of a scandal and that probably helped create an opening for gas bar in, in what is a district that has really more Democrats than Republicans. At this point, it could still be close. The law will allow votes postmarked by election data come in 17 days after the election that we have a lot of votes coming in already. And we have to let some hundred 37,000 people that have already voted. And it looks like already that turnout is going to be higher this time than it was in 2016. And keep in mind in the primary guests by received the most votes, but the two Democrats split their vote. So Terra Lawson, reamer, and Escondido city council, woman, Olga Diaz actually received more votes than gas bar. If you put the two totals together, it's going to make it a somewhat uphill battle for an incumbent, which is gas bar's position. At this point,

Speaker 5: 19:01 I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, Steve Walsh, and Steve, thank you very much.

Speaker 4: 19:06 Thanks Maureen.

Speaker 5: 19:15 You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Alison st. John, along with Maureen Kavanaugh, the San Diego city attorney is elected. So their role is to represent the interests of San Diego residents and taxpayers, but the city attorney also has to represent the legal interests of the city. These two interests do not always align, and that may be at the heart of the difference between the two candidates running for San Diego city attorney this year, who to tell us about the options on the table for San Diego city voters is KPBS reporter Joe Hong Joe, thanks for being with us. Thanks for having me. So now we have one incumbent city attorney and one challenger to consider tell us briefly who they are and how their priorities differ.

Speaker 4: 19:57 So the current city attorney is Mara Elliott. She comes from public service. She was a deputy city attorney before she was elected in 2016. And her priorities sort of have been done regulation and advocating for domestic abuse survivors. She sort of prides herself on being able to, uh, formalize alliances, uh, from across the aisle from all parts of the political spectrum. And, um, yeah, she sort of boasts, you know, a, a good working relationship with the current city council and her challenger is Corey Briggs. He's a, uh, civil attorney. He describes himself as a taxpayer's advocate. He's sort of known in the legal community in San Diego for suing the

Speaker 6: 20:48 City over a real estate development over public records laws. And yeah, he's become known as someone who I guess, fights for transparency in city government.

Speaker 5: 21:01 So Mara Elliot has had for years, what does she consider her major accomplishment?

Speaker 6: 21:06 Yeah. So Elliot has really, uh, taken steps to tighten gun regulation and protect, uh, victims and survivors of domestic abuse. I talked to her last week. Um, here's what

Speaker 5: 21:19 We have a nationally recognized gun violence restraining order program that has removed over 600 guns from the street from people who are threatening suicides or domestic violence or mass shootings

Speaker 6: 21:32 Beyond sort of a gun regulation. She has really made elder abuse of focus. So she's, you know, taking pride in, cracking down on nursing homes and making sure that San Diego is the elderly are being protected at these facilities.

Speaker 5: 21:48 Now, why does Corey Briggs argue that he would be the better candidate for city attorney?

Speaker 6: 21:52 So Corey Briggs has, like I said, sued the city, um, countless times, dozens of times in the past 10 years. And he says sort of, it would be an easy transition for him to go from someone who has advocated for taxpayers in the courtroom to being the person who sort of runs the city from a legal perspective, at least. And he has accused, uh, his opponent, uh, Mark Elliott of being sort of politically motivated. And here's what he sort of said about that.

Speaker 5: 22:21 Well, you just don't know what she's doing unless you read headlines and there, you know, but all she's doing is reaching for headlines and trying to advance her career as opposed to advancing the quality of life for San Diego. Okay. So, so what examples does Briggs give of things that Mara Elliott has done that do not advance quality of life for San Diego?

Speaker 6: 22:39 Yeah. Uh, so Briggs, his campaign has been really sort of just fleeing a lot of accusations at Elliott, um, about her lack of transparency with law enforcement. Uh, he's accused her of, you know, protecting bad cops, which Elliot completely denies. She says there is a prosecutorial process for keeping police officers who have been accused of misconduct accountable. Um, and, you know, during the primary, a big issue was the contract with general electric. Uh, he accused her of thinking about selling data to law enforcement or third parties, which Elliot also denied at the time. And yeah,

Speaker 5: 23:20 It's with the surveillance cameras on the street lights, right.

Speaker 6: 23:23 That's right. Yes. And so, yeah, Briggs is main accusations, really revolve around, you know, the lack of transparency, um, that he sees as, uh, the ways just sort of Elliot runs things.

Speaker 5: 23:38 She's also, of course, he's implicated her, of course, in the fiasco over the Ash street deal, the real estate deal.

Speaker 6: 23:46 Yeah. And that's, that also gets kinda messy. So the ashtray deal was basically done and done for w when Elliot entered office. So in her first week as city attorney, she, her, her name is printed on the contract and her assistant signed the final contract. But, you know, Briggs sees that as a major failure of, of Elliot's, but Elliot told me that, you know, she had at that stage in, in the contracts development, you know, she had no reason to doubt the work that the attorneys have been doing for, you know, months and months,

Speaker 5: 24:24 As you said earlier, Briggs has frequently sued the city, mostly in issues related to new development. Would he be able, do you think to defend a city, if that was what he was called to do? If that,

Speaker 6: 24:35 I mean, he, he sure thinks, so I think he sees himself as someone who has sort of isolated all the, all the weak spots in city government, and he knows therefore how to make city government, uh, sort of, you know, a tighter running ship.

Speaker 5: 24:53 Briggs had some negative publicity connected to his name when there was an I news source investigation of his business practices briefly. How did that?

Speaker 6: 25:01 I knew source, they found some legally and ethically sort of questionable behavior, um, in his, in his business dealings and his legal dealings with his clients. Um, but you know, Bruce has denied all of I new sources, findings, uh, the bar association, uh, briefly investigated him. They've found no, um, sort of, uh, evidence of misconduct. So yeah, no, no major outcomes from that.

Speaker 5: 25:30 Thank you so much for filling us in.

Speaker 6: 25:32 Yeah, sure thing. Thanks for having me

Speaker 5: 25:34 Speaking with KPBS reporter Joe home, two Democrats are running for supervisor in San Diego's district. One. That district includes Carnados national city and Chula Vista, as well as parts of downtown San Diego Barrio, Logan point Loma and Sherman Heights. District one has been represented by Republican Greg Cox for 25 years, but term limits and changing demographics mean either Ben Weisel or Nora Vargas will become the second Democrat on the San Diego County board of supervisors. Joining me is KPBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Andrew. Welcome. Thank you, Maureen. Tell us more about the background of these two candidates. I think many people in San Diego are already familiar with the name Ben [inaudible]

Speaker 6: 26:27 That's right. Why? So it goes back quite a while in South Bay politics in particular, he was elected to the San Diego city council district eight, which includes most of the South Bay communities in the city of San Diego. In 2006, I, it was a special, he

Speaker 7: 26:44 Was reelected to a full term later that year, uh, at one point or for two years, rather, he served as city council president from 2008 to 2010. Um, also in his, during his time on the city council, he spent two years on the California coastal commission, which oversees development in the state's coastal zones. And then in 2010, he made the leap up to Sacramento. He was elected to the state assembly a few years later in 2013, he made the leap one step above to the Senate. It also in a special election and he's been in the Senate since then. I mean, he really points to that long tenure in elected office has evidence that he's got experience in policy making. He knows how to deliver for his constituents. And, uh, his critics use that, uh, against him, uh, his experience. They say he spent too much time in Sacramento.

Speaker 7: 27:32 He's kind of become out of touch with his constituents and it's time for him to move on from politics. Here's a bit of what he told me in our interview. I have not only worked hard to represent my constituents, but to actually get things done. And I'm running because I have a strong record of getting things done. I'm using this system to help improve the lives of the people of San Diego. Now what's the background of candidate Nora Vargas. She has worked as the vice president of community and government relations for planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest. Uh, for she's been with that organization for almost 11 years, uh, counting time with some other planned Parenthood affiliate. She says she's been with the organization as a whole, for about 20 years. And she says that that experience in delivering a healthcare and advocating for healthcare, um, helps her understand that whole system from the inside and, um, making sure, you know, people have access to healthcare and they know the resources that are available to them through outreach and, and developing relationships with communities.

Speaker 7: 28:39 Um, and she says, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, um, the County needs someone with that type of experience, particularly when you consider that this district, the South Bay and the Latino community as a whole has been disproportionately impacted by the virus. She's also served on the governing board of Southwestern community college. She's been in that role for more than seven years. And she says, that's exposed her to some of the other problems that the County has a role in addressing, for example, the housing needs of young adults, uh, the transportation needs that needs of food and healthcare. And this is, uh, some of what she told me about that in our interview.

Speaker 8: 29:16 When you talk about healthcare, we're not just talking about medical healthcare or mental healthcare, right? We're also talking about making sure that people have access to food, housing, security, and transportation, all of the issues that really are the basic needs that our communities have to have in order to be able to have a good quality of life. Do we know who's leading in the district where, so our Vargas, we,

Speaker 7: 29:38 Well, we know way so came in first in the primary by a comfortable margin. We, I haven't seen any public polling in this race. Uh, it's not certainly the most high profile race in the County at this time. Although I think it's probably fair to say it's pretty competitive. They're not miles apart of our guests in way. So when it comes to fundraising, Vargas had a fairly decent lead as of about a month ago. Um, she's also been spending more, uh, which led to way, so actually having more cash on hand as of, um, the last reporting period, which was, um, the end of September, um, he's also had some previous campaigns, so he's got some cash in the bank, uh, in order, you know, from those previous, uh, times that he's run for office. And what about endorsements? Uh, they both have racked up a pretty respectable list of endorsements from elected officials way.

Speaker 7: 30:30 So is supported by a Congressman Juan Vargas whose district overlaps with, uh, this, uh, first district in the County. Um, his colleague in the Senate state Senate, president pro tem, Tony Atkins, uh, assembly member, Todd Gloria, who's currently running for mayor Vargas is supported also by a couple of members of Congress, Susan Davis, and Mike Levin. Uh, she's supported by San Diego city council, president Georgette Gomez, also assembly member Loraina Gonzalez who holds quite a bit of sway in this district. Um, Vargas also importantly, when the district of the San Diego County democratic party, and that holds both symbolic significance because it kind of shows that she's got the backing of the institutional, um, you know, the institution of the party, but also in terms of spending the County, uh, democratic party can promote her candidacy advocate for her, um, when speaking directly or communicating directly with registered Democrats. And so that can free up some of Vargas's own campaign cash for focusing on other areas where other voters, Andrew, thanks for that overview. I've been speaking with KPBS, Metro,

Speaker 5: 31:33 Andrew Bowen, and Andrew. Thank you. You're welcome. Morning, San Diego candy businesses have been stuck in one phase of reopening because of the region's high rate of new coronavirus cases. But local health officials are pushing the state to consider other data points like hospital capacity to help loosen restrictions in our ongoing series about the counties, covert data KPBS health report of Taran mento learns capacity differs depending on who's counting

Speaker 3: 32:09 The sound of the ICU at sharp Chula Vista medical center carries all the way to the elevator. So our ICU looks very different than what it used to. Danesha Jenkins heads, the unit they recently added noisy, but crucial negative pressure systems to every patient room prior to COVID. We only had three negative pressure rooms in our intensive care units. The suction system keeps contagions from seeping into the hallway. Now we've converted every single room up here to negative pressure. The sound earned it, a nickname, the spaceship, and now allows the hospital to safely host COVID patients in any of the DCU beds. San Diego County closely tracks that resource to reveal any extra stress from the pandemic. When we had more patients than space in one ICU, we had to spill over governor Gavin Newsom relies on a data driven process that controls limitations statewide, but a County system uses 13 metrics to drive local decisions that could further restrict activities in San Diego.

Speaker 3: 33:09 A KPBS review of the county's process revealed local government and healthcare leaders. Don't always agree on how to count crucial resources like ICU beds. Pretty much with every patient interaction. There's some clinician putting something in the computer back in Jenkins's office. Her computer screen shows a system that logs the status of every bed they're blocked for one reason or another they're dirty tells us if it has a patient calling into it or going out of it. But early in the pandemic capacity got so tight. They transferred patients to other sharp hospitals, nurses from UC San Diego, even delivered baskets of snacks to keep up the sharp team's energy. The nursing community, especially during these times is strong and powerful. The County wants at least 20% of the region's ICU beds to be open, or you may consider new restrictions to limit community spread of the virus, the County tallies, empty clean beds as available. And that capacity hasn't dipped below 27%, but Jenkins says there's another more realistic way to count beds. And this is the number of staffed ICU beds that we have available. Sharps spaceship may have 40 unoccupied beds, but Jenkins says they may only have enough nurses for 30. That means what the County considers available may not always be ready to take patients right away. Yes,

Speaker 9: 34:22 Well hospitalized 300 licensed beds. That doesn't mean at any given point. They're staffed fully for 300 beds.

Speaker 3: 34:29 It's Dimitrios Alexio heads, the regions hospital association. He says hospitals would have to add shifts and temporary workers to close the gap between open and staffed beds. But it is a familiar strategy.

Speaker 9: 34:42 If we got to the point where we didn't have beds available, um, we would continue to work to find staff. It's what always happens.

Speaker 3: 34:51 The County wouldn't agree to an interview, but a spokeswoman says health officials don't focus on staffed beds because it will always look like the hospitals are almost out. She says the number quote doesn't accurately account for their ability to rapidly increase capacity and staff guys doing okay at sharp Chula Vista. The surge has subsided for now, but flu season is nearing and reminders of the influx that could come again are all around pictures from children, calling them heroes, hanging at the nurses station Brown grocery bags of staff, protective gear fills their former conference room everyone's equipment that keeps them safe. It's kind of crazy looking in there. The county's metrics also track safety gear to make sure hospitals aren't running out yet. Some hospitals don't think they tally enough items, but for sharp Chula Vista, the biggest Mark from COVID is the ache left from losing one of their own Jenkins and lead ICU. Nurse LOE says Selena's embraced as they remembered. Sharp's long time facilities manager. I had known this person for a long time, and I know the family for a long time. And now it was the end of life for this person. And it was heart breaking 51 year old, Raul Romo, a new grandfather who painted his beard pink for breast cancer awareness and played Santa at Christmas, died at the hospital in may after contracting COVID. The numbers are people, right? Some of them were RP. Romo helped build the spaceship, Taryn mento, KPBS news,

Speaker 5: 36:22 San Diego County officials are drafting a letter to the governor to consider a hospital capacity in the reopening process.

Speaker 5: 36:42 You're listening to KPBS mid day edition. I'm Alison st. John, along with Maureen Kavanaugh at a time when we're watching our nation become painfully divided and bitter culture Wars ramping up to threats of violence. The film that we'll talk about next is like a lighthouse in a darkening storm. And it, we hear from people who grew up steeped in white supremacy values, committed to white supremacists goals, and we watch how our own prejudices and fears melt as they talk about their transformations. San Diego filmmaker, Susan Paula's shirts has a documentary called love, wins over hate, and it airs tonight on KPBS television. Susan joins us now welcome to Monday, Susan. Thank you. Talk to us a bit about why this film is so important right now at this particular moment in history.

Speaker 10: 37:29 First of all, from a statistics point of view, prejudice and hate crimes are more prevalent than ever. And our country is being divided by such, um, hate speech, um, actions, physical actions, prejudices, and it's unbearable. I mean, you can't watch the news without feeling really sad about how people are acting and what people are saying and doing so it's, it's growing and growing. And I think it's extremely dangerous and sad.

Speaker 5: 38:07 Yes. So now you interview several people for this film who considered themselves white supremacists. What did they tell you about why they embraced white supremacy? And in several cases, brutal violence.

Speaker 10: 38:20 I interviewed six white supremacy and, um, a couple of other prejudice people. And interesting enough, most of them did not grow up in prejudice homes or any kind of a white supremist homes. Most of them had families that were very dysfunctional, um, physically abusive, verbally abusive. They were bullied and they had no self esteem. So when they were done with school, somehow they hooked up with a white supremacy groups and these groups, uh, go around looking for vulnerable people. And the groups would say to these people, um, jeez, we can be your family. You're really smart. You can go high up in the, in the organization. And then they would indoctrinate them literally with how they feel. And so they had a purpose. They had a new PR, a purpose in life. Sometimes for the first time in their lives, they had a purpose. They had friends, they had a family. So that's what happened. And then they became very, very prejudiced. And many of them violent, only one of them, Tim Curic grew up in a household. It was a very religious household that thought gay people were sinners. Um, and so he was indoctrinated by his family. And then later he met gay people and realized, you know, it's the same as everybody else, but all the other people, I don't think any of them are for a recall, grew up in families, um, or even knew people that were such haters.

Speaker 5: 40:03 Hmm. Interesting. So in some ways they were kind of looking for connection. Um, one of the clips that really struck me in the documentary is from one of your subjects. Let's take a look.

Speaker 11: 40:15 Hatred is born of ignorance. Fear is its father and isolation as its mother. And I absolutely believe that anger and fear and uncertainty, I think most of all is what really feeds or make somebody prone to accept the narrative of hate.

Speaker 5: 40:33 The thing about the movie is even although the subjects at the beginning are definitely experiencing a lot of turmoil. Uh, they all have some kind of a breakthrough and a change of heart where there some common threads in their stories of, of what triggered that change of heart.

Speaker 10: 40:49 Absolutely. Some of them actually met people that they thought they hated and they realize that there is a very similar background. There are people, and they had a lot in common, but probably more so in common than they had not in common. So that was an epiphany for many of them is when they actually met people. So, um, I think connection was one of them, uh, um, having a family life, wanting to preserve their family life, not liking what they saw people doing to others, not liking violence. And, and they just had enough.

Speaker 5: 41:26 Right, right. No, there's, there's an arc to this documentary. Isn't there. It gradually unfolds to a place

Speaker 10: 41:34 Of hope and strengths at the end.

Speaker 12: 41:40 Empathy teaches that we're the supporting character in every other person's existence that we come into contact with. The more we practice it, the less we'll have school shootings. The less we'll have friendships breaking apart because of politics or because of religion. The less we'll see a schism between the religious and the non-religious.

Speaker 10: 42:01 He's the one that I was mentioning that grew up with his parents, thinking that homosexuality was a sin and he went to Liberty university and he's just the kindest guy. And he goes to pride parades. And, um, he's just a great folks person for the LGBTQ, um, LGBTQ, uh, community. Right. You really follow these people's stories through the documentary. I really do. I, I just, I was so shocked because there were such good human beings. And when I talked to them, I could not believe that they used to be so different, you know, because they were so kind. And as you can see, they're eloquent and they think a lot and they're psychological and they're loving. And you know, my first interview, I was really scared to interview the guy because you think of white supremacy is people being really, you know, violent. And you know, obviously they're not violent all the time and they do, you know, they have a heart and it's just misplaced.

Speaker 10: 43:06 I mean, I'm not condoning them. I they're horrible. They do. But w after interviewing these people, I saw that there is a way out. And there was a reason, even though it's a bad reason that they got involved in, in these movements. So you had a bit of a change of heart in making this movie too very, very much so. Yeah. What do you hope that this documentary leaves people thinking and feeling well, you know what, I I'm one of the guys aren't McEllis, he says it better than I do. He said, if you're going to combat hate and violence, you cannot do it with more hate and violence you need to do with love and empathy. And that's the only way love will win. And that's kind of what I would like people to understand. And then I think the idea of connecting with people, sitting down with them, realizing that they're human beings, just like they are with the same problems. You know, one of the guys mentioned, we all want our families to be healthy. We want to earn a living. We want to have a nice life, and everyone wants that. That's what everyone wants. Um, so showing that all people are, one is one of the things I would like to show showing that people need to have empathy with others is another thing. And then that there's hope to overcome this hatred. Well, thanks so much for making this film, that tips the

Speaker 5: 44:32 Scale towards love season. Thank you for talking with us. Thank you so much. I've been speaking with San Diego filmmakers, Susan Polis shoots, whose documentary love wins over hate airs tonight on KPBS television at 10 o'clock.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.