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Primary Election 2024: A look into local San Diego races

 February 8, 2024 at 12:15 PM PST

S1: It's time for Midday Edition on Kpbs. Today we're talking about the top races for local office and what it is elected officials actually do. I'm Jade Hindman. Here's to conversations that keep you informed , inspired , and make you think. Some of our top races take us to the cities of Chula Vista and San Diego.

S2: In a city where , you know , we have upwards of 1.4 million people. Those things , just having people recognize your name and and having money to spend , you know , to get your message out there , those are really essential to winning a mayor's race.

S1: Plus , we'll tell you how you can find more information about judicial races and what we can all do to secure democracy. That's ahead on Midday Edition. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition , I'm Jade Hindman. The March primary is just around the corner. Kpbs is covering the top local races in the city of San Diego and Chula Vista. We're joined now by two of our reporters to highlight some of the city of San Diego's races. That should be on your radar. Andrew Bowen is Kpbs Metro reporter. Andrew , welcome. Hi.

S2: Thanks , Jade.

S1: And Katie Hyson is our racial justice and social equity reporter. Katie , welcome to you , too.

S3: Thanks for having me.

S1: Glad to have you both here. So , Andrew , I'll start with you. The mayor's race. Todd Gloria is seeking re-election.

S2: Incumbents almost never lose re-election in San Diego. There have been some few exceptions in in cases where there's been a really big scandal. But Gloria has money in his campaign account. He's got name recognition , uh , and some infrastructure built into his campaign , you know , a ground game. So. And he also has allies in other elected officials and interest groups like labor unions that are willing to back him up. Um , so , you know , he's he's , I think probably feeling pretty good going into this election year. I haven't seen any polling in the race , but conventional wisdom is just that. Gloria would be the strong favorite. But to his challenges , he certainly does have some. There has been some negative press after the flooding that was caused by the recent storms and , you know , missed opportunities that the city may have had to clear out storm drains and prevent some of that flooding from happening. The longer term maintenance problems that the city has had that is known about for a really long time , but hasn't really gotten around to addressing in a serious way. Uh , homelessness , of course , is is always top of mind for voters in San Diego. It has decreased downtown somewhat where the encampments were most prolific. And I think , uh , the mayor would certainly take some credit for that. But the overall situation around homelessness has not really gotten better in any meaningful way. So , you know , if folks are if voters are just fed up with the situation , you know , that could be a liability for him as well. Yeah.


S2: Two of them don't really have any real name recognition or money in their , you know , behind their campaigns. And in a city where , you know , we have upwards of 1.4 million people , those things , just having people recognize your name and and having money to spend , you know , to get your message out there , those are really essential to winning a mayor's race , you know , in a city this big. The two candidates who do have some degree of of organization around their campaigns , I'll say that , are Genevieve Jones , right , and Larry Turner , uh , Jones. Right. Uh , voters may recognize as a candidate for district attorney in 2018. She mounted a pretty serious effort to try and win that election , but ultimately lost by 25 points. That was , of course , a county election , not a city election. Uh , and as far as her background goes , she was a public defender for many years. She now heads a nonprofit that uses litigation to try and affect change at , uh , in the government. And she is kind of positioning herself to Gloria's left. So trying to present herself as a more progressive alternative to the mayor , she opposed his encampment ban. Uh , you know , that that prohibits , uh , homeless people from sleeping on the streets in certain areas and , uh , trying to get them into shelter. Larry Turner is a newcomer to politics. He's probably got an uphill battle in terms of name recognition , people knowing you know who he is. But as far as his background , he is a veteran and a military veteran and , uh , currently a police officer. So he's certainly trying to focus on this issue of homelessness and speaking from the perspective of a cop who , you know , is often the first person to show up on a scene when there may have been some incident or or a safety issue. So those are the two candidates that I would say are probably the most viable , although , uh , you know , still probably facing quite a great deal of , of challenge in beating an incumbent.

S1: Katie , I want to bring you into this conversation. District four is looking to be the most competitive race in the city of San Diego this season. It's the only other city election besides the city attorney race with no incumbent. Um , first , remind us of what area the district four seat represents.

S3: District four is southeast San Diego , so think Encanto , Emerald Hills , Valencia Park area.


S3: Henry Foster , the third , who has been Monica Montgomery , steps long time chief of staff. She , of course , was District Four's council person. And she took a. Spot on the county board and left the seat vacant. Foster has the most official endorsements right now. There's Theresa Salisbury , who's currently an executive assistant for the state senate district. She's running what she calls a grassroots campaign , so there's no campaign website or official endorsements. She's going door to door. And there's Chido Warren Darby , who currently works as the boards and commissions director for Mayor Todd Gloria. And she's currently backed by the mayor and a couple of council members and state legislators as well. All three are longtime district four residents and all have had careers in local government.


S3: This isn't new. It's a formerly redlined community , and you can see today the results of that and of decades of underinvestment. The city has taken some public steps toward equity , but many residents feel like it's talk and they're not seeing any changes in their neighborhoods. Um , economic development is definitely top of mind. And now infrastructure. The area was hit hard by the storms , but residents say , listen , we've been voicing our issues with streets and storm drains for a long time , and this flooding is just highlighting what they see as a long history of neglect by the city. These candidates are residents to write , but they and they voiced concerns about these same things. But I'm not hearing a lot of talk about this election or the candidates from other residents , and part of that might just be coming from exhaustion. You know , that they've seen a lot of people come and go in power and not a lot of change.

S4: Well , that in mind.


S3: If no one candidate gets more than half the votes , it has to go to a runoff , which not only would cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars , but the district would go more than half a year with no representation on the council. The other thing is that the winner would likely be the tie breaking vote. On whether Shawn Rivera gets reelected as council president , and each candidate seems to lean different ways on that.

S1: I've been speaking with Andrew Bohn , our Metro reporter , and Katie Hyson , who reports on racial justice and social equity. You can catch more of their reporting on our voter hub at Kpbs. Org , where we cover the rest of the City Council races. Andrew. Katie , your reporting on these races is definitely something we'll be watching out for. Thank you so much for joining us.

S2: Thank you. Jade. Thanks.

S3: Thanks.

S1: Stick around. We'll be covering the Chula Vista races next. We're continuing our roundup on local elections. Chula Vista is seeing some of its most hotly contested races this season. Here to talk about the top races are Kpbs investigative border reporter Gustavo Solis. Gustavo , welcome.

S4: Hello , Jade. Hello.

S1: Hello. And Corey Suzuki , Kpbs reporter and visual journalist covering the South Bay and Imperial counties. Corey , welcome to you to hydrate.

S5: Thanks for having. Me.

S1: Me. Glad to have you both here. So what top issues are facing the Chula Vista City Council moving into this election ? Gustavo , I'll start with you.

S6: According to the candidates , they all say public safety is a top priority. Uh , secondary would be affordability. Actually , both of the candidates I spoke to gave me very , very similar anecdotes about how they go knocking on houses. And there'll be a house with parents in their early 60s with their children who are in their 30s , who have jobs , who have college degrees and just can't afford to move out. Uh , and I think probably a lot of our listeners can relate to that , but they're seeing that in Chula Vista , and they're kind of framing it in a way that is , um , people who grew up in Chula Vista can't afford to live in Chula Vista and come back home. And then obviously , I'm sure Cory will talk about this more government accountability and kind of restoring the public trust due to some recent and current scandals going on in the city.

S4: In Cary.

S1: District four is one of the most contested Chula Vista Council races in the past two decades.

S5: So district four is Southwest Chula Vista. That's the neighborhood south of El Street and west of the 805 freeway. It's , um , it's on the older side of the city , and it's sort of also characterized by a mix of residential , industrial and and mixed use zoning. There are sort of pockets of , of all of those throughout. The district. And then there's also there are pockets of commercial zoning as well. And district fours is more likely to be working class. And most residents in district four also identify as Latino. That's the the highest number of any district in the city.


S5: Cardenas has faced multiple calls to resign since the charges against her were announced. That happened last year. But city leaders don't have the legal power to force her out while her case is still pending and Cardenas has refused to to step down voluntarily , she said she doesn't plan to do that. So now , I think that that situation is why this race is so contested. The fact that Cardenas is facing these charges and has lost a lot of political support over them , that has drawn in six candidates to run against her , five regular candidates and one write in candidate , which makes a total of seven registered candidates running for a single city council seat in the March primary. Wow.

S4: Wow. So what's the.

S1: Reaction from residents ? You said there have been numerous calls for Cardenas to resign.

S5: Yeah , I think , um , for residents , I have , uh , seen a lot of , um , a lot of frustration. A lot of residents have shown up to city council meetings in the months since the charges were announced. Sharing their thoughts , a number of them have called for Cardenas to resign. And I think that's really showed up in this race specifically. Basically , all of the candidates running in this race are running partially on a platform of restoring trust in local government. Like Gustavo mentioned , they all have different definitions of what that means. But clearly , the charges against council Member Cardenas have brought a lot of people into this race.


S5: Like , I , like I mentioned , there are six other candidates. There are a couple previous city council candidates , um , Delfina Gonzalez , a union organizer and business owner , and Christine Brady , who's an educator and a nonprofit executive. And then there's a there's a former city council member , um , Rudy Ramirez. There's a school administrator , Cesar Fernandez. And then Jose Sarmiento is a is a bank manager with not a lot of political experience. And then , um , Leticia Flores is an activist who has been , um , who has been active around parkland in southwest Chula Vista.

S1: Gustavo , I also want to talk about district three , which covers southeastern Chula Vista. The race has five candidates , but with two actively campaigning.

S6: And just a little bit of , uh , maybe backstory and history for the listeners. District three used to be Steve Padilla School District. The council member , Steve Padilla. He was a former mayor of Chula Vista and went on to be elected to the state assembly. And that created a vacancy that the city council filled by appointment. But part of the conditions of the appointment was that you couldn't run for this , this election. So it's an open seat. There's no incumbent running in the race , but the two folks who who have raised the most money , who have the most endorsements and frankly , who are just more open and out there in the community are , uh , Leticia murguia , who's a nonprofit director , and Michael Ensign , who's , uh , current board member of the Chula Vista Charter Review Commission and also works as an advocate for school boards.


S6: You had Mary Garcia Salas , the former mayor , who was very experienced , leaving. Uh , you had Steve Padilla , like I mentioned earlier , leaving , uh , these are people with a lot of experience , a lot of institutional knowledge. And the current city council is outside of John McCann , the mayor. He's been there for for decades in and around politics. But the rest of the council members are relatively new and inexperienced to politics and Chula Vista. And same with this batch. I mean , none of them have been elected before. So you have in the city this this odd dynamic where the representatives are all , you know , obviously ambitious. Their heart is in the right place. They want to do good things for the city , but experience is not something that they all have in local government.

S1: I've been speaking with Gustavo Solis , Kpbs investigative border reporter , and Corey Suzuki , Kpbs reporter and visual journalist covering the South Bay and Imperial counties. You can follow more of their election coverage on Gustavo and Corey , thank you very much for joining us. Yeah.

S6: Yeah. Thank you.

S5: Jade , thank you so much , Jade.

S1: Coming up. One way you can learn more information about judicial races.

S7: All candidates are judged not only by a personal interview , but in addition to that , the 15 factors that we ask the community to rate them on.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. The presidential primary election is almost here. Ballots are going out this week , with March 5th marking the last voting day along with who will run the country. San Diego voters have other races to consider. Among them four judicial races for county superior court positions. Unlike other candidates on the ballot , voters often don't have much information on potential judges. They run nonpartisan , so choosing along party lines is out. So for more information , we're turning to someone with perhaps some insider knowledge. Welcome. Gail Blatt , attorney at Casey Gary and chair of the San Diego County Bar Association's Judicial Election Evaluation Committee. Gail , it's great to have you here.

S7: Thank you. Jade , I'm happy to be here. Thank you for having me. Yes.

S1: Yes. So for the average voter , there just isn't much information out there about judicial candidates.


S7: Most people somehow do not have a lot of , um , interaction with the judiciary , and that's probably a good thing for some. Um , and there isn't , uh , because it's a non-partisan race , there isn't a lot of information out there. And that is one of the reasons why the Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee does its work to help educate the public on the candidates that are running for judicial seats.

S4: And how long.



S4: Oh that's. Great.

S1: Great.

S7: Judges have a lot of responsibility and have a lot of power in our community. When people are involved in the legal system. And so it's important that people are given the opportunity to make informed decisions as to how they want to vote for the candidates.

S1: Can you explain the process of how you evaluate potential judges ? Sure.


S7: Well , the first thing is , once the candidates declare their intent to run for judgeship , they are provided by the committee and the San Diego County Bar Association , a personal data questionnaire , which is sent to the candidates to fill out , and it asks extensive personal information about their history , their backgrounds , a number of other questions about cases that they've handled , and their qualifications for judgeship. In addition , we ask for references for people that they believe we should contact to evaluate their qualifications for the seat that they are seeking. Once they do that , the committee then through the Bar Association , sends out confidential questionnaires to its entire membership of the San Diego County Bar Association and to the judiciary. It posts the confidential questionnaires on its website for anybody in the community to respond. And those confidential questionnaires , uh , provide the committee a lot of information and feedback from the community about several factors. There are 15 factors that we use to evaluate the candidates , some of them being fairness and objectivity , integrity and honesty , judgment and common sense , knowledge of the law , tolerance and lack of bias , courtesy and patience , and a number of other factors that we want to evaluate the candidates on , because these are the qualities that we would want to have in our judicial officers. Once we get that feedback from the community , the committees are broken into subcommittees , which then interview the candidate and evaluate the responses to the confidential questionnaires and come up with a , uh , report on what they have learned. And then the committee meets and we rate the candidates based on all of the information that is available to us.

S1: And can you talk about the four tiered breakdown that serves as a rating ? Sure.


S7: There were actually five , one being unable to evaluate , which is rare , but there are times if somebody does not want to participate in the process and we do not have enough confidential questionnaires submitted , there are times where we might not be able to evaluate a candidate because we just don't feel like we have enough information , but generally our guiding ratings are exceptionally qualified , well qualified , qualified and lacking qualifications. So exceptionally qualified would be possessing exceptional professional ability , experience , competence , integrity and or temperament to perform the judicial function , while qualified , would be the same for uh , possessing a high level of professional ability to perform the judicial function. Qualified would be that they presently possess the professional ability , experience , competence , integrity , and or temperament. Indicating ability to perform the judicial function and lacking qualifications , would be presently not possessing professional ability , experience , competence , integrity and or temperament , indicating ability to perform the judicial function.

S1: So when evaluating candidates , lacking qualifications is one category.

S7: So , for example , intellect and ability , tolerance , lack of bias , compassion and understanding , knowledge of the law , judicial temperament , all of the things that we would want in our judicial officers if the community's response to the confidential questionnaires is that they found overwhelmingly or within our scoring system , that a candidate did not meet what we would consider at least the minimum , to be qualified on the 15 different factors than they would receive a lacking qualifications rating.


S7: There are times when somebody is rated as lacking qualifications.


S7: Positively representing a cross-section of the legal community , and that we are doing our best to inform the the public of unbiased ratings.


S7: We ask them for a lot of information to be provided. We also provide them with the names of all of the committee members on the judicial elections , uh , Evaluation Committee , and the names of the members of the subcommittee that will be performing their interviews and taking primary responsibility for their evaluation. And we do give them a chance to let us know if anybody is on that list that they feel would have some reason to not treat them fairly and without bias. In addition , we also check with the committee members to make sure that nobody needs to recuse themselves from any evaluation of any particular candidate , because at the end of the day , the goal is to empower the community and to make sure that our process is followed and it's fair. And at the end of this entire process , what gets reported to the San Diego County Bar Association is that the process was followed , and what our recommendations are for ratings.


S7: The candidates are evaluated independence of one another. So for example , two candidates could be running against one another and they could get the same rating. They may not , but everybody is evaluated as an individual without respect to who their opponent is or who else is running for any seat. It's not a comparison and it is not the judicial elections uh , Evaluation Committee's role to endorse. We are just trying to educate the public and provide them the information that we have gleaned from all of the investigations we have done. On.

S4: On.

S1: This spring's ballot. There are a number of Superior Court judicial seats on the ballot.

S4: Court.

S7: Court.

S4: Is the.

S7: State court for the County of San Diego , for the city and County of San Diego. Um , they handle all different types of cases and judges who are assigned or are members of the judiciary of the County of San Diego perform various functions. They have civil cases , criminal cases , juvenile cases , family law cases , and any other disputes that fall within their purview.






S7: And also they will send out a press release with our ratings. And just for them to know that our whole mission is to empower them to be able to make informed decisions and to educate the public as to what our rigorous analysis of each candidate has borne. And it is a totally unbiased process , and the committee works very hard to make sure that our ratings are above board and without any hint of endorsement or bias.

S4: All right.

S1: Gail Blatt is an attorney at Casey Geary and chair of the San Diego County Bar Association's Judicial Election Evaluation Committee. Gail , thank you so much for joining us , and thank you for your insight.

S7: Thank you.

S1: The San Diego County Bar Association will release their evaluations for this year's judicial candidates next Wednesday , February 14th. That will be available on their website , SD Seaborg. We'll also have that information on our voter. Hub at Kpbs. Org. Coming up , the obligation voters have to uphold a healthy democracy.

S8: So I could go on and on. But yeah , I think American democracy is in real trouble. And I don't think any of us who value it should be should be complacent.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition , I'm Jade Hindman. Election season is in full swing , and Americans are worried about the state of our democracy. A poll from the Associated Press NORC center for Public Affairs Research found that 62% of adults say the outcome of this presidential race could put democracy at risk , although they disagree on who poses that threat. So what can we do to help keep democracy alive ? The PBS documentary A Citizen's Guide to Preserving Democracy. Looks to address just that. It's based on Richard Haass book , the Bill of Obligations The Ten Habits of Good Citizens. In addition to being an author , Haas is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and senior counselor at Center View Partners. He joins me now to talk about the decline in democracy and the part we play in saving it. Richard , welcome.

S8: Great to be with you , Jade.

S1: Great to have you here. So there are many reasons that democracy is declining.

S8: There's , there's there's several , as you say. It's how we fund our politics. I think it's the rise of social media and more broadly , the rise of what I would call narrow casting , uh , whether it's on radio or cable or , again , in the social media world , I think the fact we don't teach civics in our schools , in many cases , has led to a falling off of , uh , connections between people and their government. I think also over the last 20 years. Think about it's been a pretty rough time. If you're someone who's 35 or 40 , you're , you know , your awareness part of your life probably began with nine over 11. And since then you've seen two costly , unsuccessful wars. You've seen a pandemic , you've seen financial crises , you've seen January 6th , you've seen , uh , more dysfunction than you can shake a stick at in Washington. So you might be forgiven for asking the question , uh , what is democracy done for me as opposed to to me ? So I think for all these reasons , uh , I understand why there's more than a little frustration with or alienation from democracy.

S1: Yeah , it's a lot to experience. Uh , you mentioned something called narrow casting.

S8: There were three networks CBS , ABC and NBC. Everybody tended to watch one of the the three. So we had common experiences and you had quite a lot of editorial control and so forth on these networks. They all try to be middle of the road with fact checkers and , uh , the like. Now we have hundreds , if not thousands of cable outlets. We have unlimited social media outlets , which essentially enables everybody to be his or her own publisher. You've got am FM , satellite radio , so you've had this proliferation of quote unquote news outlets , many of which are not news. They don't they don't meet the most basic standards of fact checking or balance. They don't separate , uh , editorial views from supposedly reporting. And so we've gone from a world where there was quite a lot of quality control and common experience to a world in which there's virtually no quality control in many outlets , and there's increasingly separate experience.

S4: Um , and.

S1: Many people will attribute that fact to the January 6th insurrection , at least in part. Um , and they also point to that as a defining moment for them when they first realize democracy is in trouble.

S8: I think January 6th was more the reflection than the cause of our democratic troubles. We had people who , for example , were buying into the idea that the election was rigged and stolen , even though more than 60 investigations have shown just the the opposite. So I think January 6th came about in no small part because of this , uh , proliferation of missing information that encouraged people to behave in , in totally unwarranted and often illegal ways. But wherever you come out on that , I don't see how if you're paying attention , you could conclude that democracy is not in trouble. Um , on lots of measures of what we mean by trouble besides political violence , which is growing. One is the inability to get things done in Washington. We see it most recently with the issues around the border and with aid for Ukraine and and others. So we've had real dysfunction or gridlock , gridlock in Washington. We just had midterm elections. More than half of the eligible voters didn't vote. Uh , we'll see how many people vote in this election , whether there's voter suppression , uh , two groups that have been singled out. Uh , obviously. Depending upon the areas or African Americans , but also students. For many , for many students , it's become increasingly difficult to vote given residency issues and mail mail in voting limitations. So I could go on and on. But yeah , I think American democracy is in real trouble. And I don't think any of us who value it should be should be complacent and say , well , it'll sort itself out. It always has. But then when you look at the disaffection and you look at some of these polls , I think , you know , we're seeing fundamental questions or doubts about the value of American democracy , particularly with younger people. And that that really worries me. And.

S1: And. Well , and for those who do value democracy , you present ten obligations in your book that we as citizens should follow for a thriving democracy.

S8: Uh , what you owe to me , and vice versa. And things both of us owe to this , this country of ours. So I think there's an element of reciprocity , of almost a mutual commitment. And what I think has gotten lost over the years is , is , uh , we're so focused on our rights , what we're owed. We haven't thought nearly enough about what we in turn owe again to one another or to the country. And when I try to argue that it's not only the right thing to do for reasons of values or ethics , but it's practical , we want our fellow citizen to feel the same thing towards us. We want them to feel obligations , uh , towards us , rather than just focused on their rights because of rights or become the only thing people care about. They tend to get absolute pretty quickly. Suddenly compromise becomes impossible. Suddenly violence becomes all too , uh , possible. And that's sort of where we we are. So what I'm focusing on are these obligations , many of which are attitudinal or behavioral things like being civil , uh , being open to compromise and , and so forth. And some of them actually involve matters of policy , getting civics taught in our schools. Uh , I don't think anyone should be able to graduate from high school or college without a civics education. Public service ought to become much more , uh , common as a way to bring Americans to together and get them to do things , uh , with the government. So they see the government need not be , uh , the enemy , as too many people have preached , but a lot again , a lot of what I'm writing about or attitudes to put the country before person , personal or party , uh , interests. And the bottom line is where we where people like me are talking about obligations , which are behavioral attitude. We've got we've got to hold our politicians to account. We've got to hold their feet to the fire. And we as citizens , we as voters have to bother to get informed about what they're up to. And then we ought to reward what we see is responsible behaviors , people who do put the country first , and we ought to penalize those who do not. Um.

S4: Um.

S1: And again , one of those first obligations is to stay informed.

S8: It's harder than ever , even though we're living in the Google age and the internet age , in part because there's so much stuff coming up coming at us that's , uh , misinformation rather than , uh , information. But I think there's a foundation of being informed about how this country works , how American democracy works. I think there's a certain foundation of information about who we are. But when I talk about being informed , it's about the the issues and it's about the stances of people we're we're voting for. So , you know , what do I think about aid to Ukraine or about a proposed legislation on the the board , or about higher or lower taxes or reforming Social Security and Medicare ? What do I think about those issues ? How do certain people , uh , where do they stand and should I , should I vote for them or or against them based upon , uh , that and that's what that's what being informed is. So you can be an informed citizen and informed voter and then getting informed , you know , it takes take some work. Uh , and there's certain what I would call , uh , practices , I'd almost call it information hygiene. So I think there's certain rules about information hygiene , about getting your information from multiple sources rather than just one , understanding the nature of your source , whether it's simply an opinion site or whether it's factual , understanding that social media is all about social rather than about , uh , information or hard news.


S1: Another obligation you talk about is to value norms.

S8: Peaceful transfer of power. It's one of the things that makes a democracy a democracy and that's so distinguished. This one we had the norm for years. The politics would stop at the water's edge. A foreign policy would not be motivated or driven by domestic political considerations. We might disagree on the merits , but that's different than saying , hey , we're not going to pass this bill of aid to Ukraine because we don't want to give the president a win. That's something very that's something very different , the violation of those , uh , norms. And then we as citizens , we as voters , I believe , have to reward people who do the right thing and penalize those who don't. But you're right. Every now and then , we need to challenge norms. We did it with civil rights. We did it with gay marriage , uh , and so forth. So I think there it's legitimate to challenge the norms , but then you've got to do it in the right way. You've got to do it in a in a nonviolent way. You've got to make the case. And we as voters can agree or disagree , be supportive or be an opponent of the proposed change. So I look American democracy , indeed any democracy , one of its inherent advantages is the ability to change. Democracies tend not to be brittle. They evolve in the United States of 2024 is different in more ways than either of us can count than than American democracy 50 or 100 years ago. And that's one of our great comparative advantages. But we've got to be discerning as to what we change and what we what we keep. So I respect the fact that people will come along wanting to change norms , and then we just have to be open to it , but then look at it with real scrutiny , with , uh , assess it , whether on balance we'd be we'd be better off. But that's , that's part that's the democratic marketplace. So I want people to be able to put forward their proposed change in norms , and the rest of us can react to it.

S4: Uh , the.

S1: Final obligation you talk about is to put the country first.

S8: I would have thought it was pretty self-evident , but putting the country before party or or personal interests is just that. I mean , standing for the right thing. So I thought Liz Cheney was a pretty good example of that. She felt that whatever , whatever else you think about her politics and all that , she felt that Donald Trump had crossed the line , that , uh , he was not fit for public office. So she she took him on , she challenged him , and she paid for it. And she lost the , uh , Republican primary in Wyoming. That , to me , is putting principle and putting the the country before her own personal interests. And we could go , you know , we could we could go on and find others. John F Kennedy wrote a book called Profiles and Courage about people who did just that. But unfortunately , nowadays we can mainly find the opposite. We can find people who aren't willing to put the country before some partisan or or a personal interest. And when this happens , it's up to voters , uh , if you will , we the people to to turn on them. And it ought to be on us to see that , uh , those who do put the country first are rewarded. And those who don't. Are penalized at the polls. That's all that's on us.

S1: Even though democracy is in dire straits as we've just run through. I mean , you've said before that it can still be saved.

S8: I wanted to kick off a national conversation about the issues you and I are talking about here. We've lasted nearly two and a half centuries. In the summer of 2026 , we're going to mark the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. So this democracy has some staying power. It has the ability to correct itself. Look at the 13th and 14th amendments and other things that we've done. Look at the civil rights movement. Look at gay marriage. This democracy has the ability to evolve , to change. Recent elections have been closed , so it wouldn't take a whole lot more turnout. Less than 1% more would have enormous political consequences , potentially. When I go around the country talking about the ideas in this book , I sense , you know , there's a lot of head nodding. A lot of people seem to agree. Look , I think most Americans know that something's gone off the rails , that something's wrong , something's amiss. But also , this is something worth worth saving. And if I didn't think there was a chance of doing it , then I go , you know , fill my day with other things. But I really do think there's a there's a need to change. The stakes are enormous. Uh , so I think there's potentially a majority out there that whatever their policy differences on this or that issue can agree that no issue should lead to the demise of of this democracy of ours. I still I still fervently believe that even though there's going to be bad days , weeks , months or years. But I think in the end there's a there's a good chance American democracy will survive intact. But I'm just not sanguine about it. I don't assume it , and I'm worried enough about it to have conversations like this one.

S4: Um , well , Richard , this.

S1: Was a great conversation. And thank you so much for coming on the show today.

S8: Thank you , Jade , for for having me , I appreciate it.

S1: Richard Haass is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and senior counselor at Center View Partners. He's the author of the book the Bill of Obligations The Ten Habits of Good Citizens. You can watch the documentary based on his book. It is called A Citizen's Guide to Preserving Democracy. It's on the PBS app , or you can find it at Thanks for joining us everyone. Don't forget to watch Evening Edition tonight at five for in-depth reporting on San Diego issues. We'll be back tomorrow at noon , and if you ever miss a show , you can find the Midday Edition podcast on all platforms. I'm Jade Hindman. Thanks for listening.

The San Diego Registrar of Voters is seen in this photo taken Feb. 5, 2024. San Diego, Calif.
Alexander Nguyen
The San Diego Registrar of Voters is seen in this photo taken Feb. 5, 2024. San Diego, Calif.

Ballots are being sent out and early voting has begun for California's 2024 Primary Election. The cities of San Diego and Chula Vista are seeing some of the most hotly contested races this season. KPBS reporters Gustavo Solis, Kori Suzuki, Andrew Bowen, and Katie Hyson join Midday Edition with more on the top local races.

Also, San Diegans will be voting in four judicial races for San Diego County Superior Court. We hear about the evaluation process candidates go through by the San Diego County Bar Association's Judicial Election Evaluation Committee.

Finally, a poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 62% of adults say the outcome of this presidential race could put democracy at risk. What can we do to help keep democracy alive? We spoke with Richard Haass, author of “The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens.” His book is the basis for the PBS documentary, "A Citizen's Guide to Preserving Democracy."