By Gordon Clanton
Voter turnout is always lower in the spring primary than the November general election. Turnout is always lower in non-presidential years. City of San Diego residents are suffering from voter fatigue with two mayoral elections in two years. There are no controversial state ballot measures to stir voters. So look for low turnout on June 3. We’ll be lucky if we have a quorum.
Low turnout always favors Republican candidates. Democrats outnumber Republicans by 14 percentage points in the City of San Diego. Yet Republican Kevin Faulconer defeated Democrat David Alvarez by 9 points. Two-thirds of San Diegans who voted for Barack Obama did not vote in the San Diego mayoral election. Two-thirds.
Many races on the June ballot will remain to be settled in November, when the top two candidates for each position, regardless of party, will square off again.
No matter where we live in this county, everyone has a stake in San Diego politics. San Diego is the anchor tenant of the county and the 900-pound gorilla of regional policy-making. Decisions made in San Diego affect the regional quality of life – even this year when District 1 (Sherri Lightner) is not on the ballot.
This year all four even-numbered seats on the nine-person San Diego City Council are up for grabs, so much is at stake. Two races are contested and consequential.
If the Democrats win both seats, they retain the 6-3 super majority they have enjoyed since Faulconer was elevated from the council and a Democrat (who cannot run for the seat) was appointed to replace him. It takes six votes to overturn a mayoral veto.
If the Dems win one of the two seats, they revert to the 5-4 majority they held before Faulconer’s election.
If the Republicans win both seats, the GOP would hold both the mayor’s office and a council majority for the first time in two decades.
In District 2, which includes Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach, Democrat Sarah Boot faces Republican Lori Zapf, an incumbent forced by redistricting to change districts.
In District 6, which includes neighborhoods north and south of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, a three-way battle for November involves Dem Carol Kim, Republican Chris Cate, and independent Mitz Lee who previously served on the SD school board.
These technically non-partisan contests will determine the balance of partisan power on the council that determines our regional fate.
Gordon Clanton teaches Sociology at San Diego State University.
He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.