There was something for everyone at the Mayoral Candidate’s Forum at Thomas Jefferson School of Law on April 20. It had fireworks, humor, debate and differing positions on substantive issues that impact the East Village Community businesses, residents and educational institutions like TJSL. Watch the Debate
The forum was sponsored by TJSL’s Center for Law and Social Justice (CLSJ) and the East Village Association (EVA) and drew a large crowd of citizens, students, staff, faculty and some TJSL alumni.
City Councilman Carl Demaio, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis (TJSL ’76), Congressman Bob Filner and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher faced off, and one observer said this was the liveliest of the three mayoral debates she has attended. The gloves came off a few times as the candidates attacked each other’s views or records. They were at times cordial, at times testy, and at other times they had the audience smiling.
The forum was moderated by Dennis Morgigno of Cox Channel 4 Television, and the panelists asking the questions were TJSL’s Alex Kreit, the CLSJ director; Kris Michell, the Executive Director of the Downtown San Diego Partnership; and Jack Monger, an EVA board member and government relations chair.
Topics ranged from public transportation, to homelessness, to redevelopment, to public funding for a new Chargers stadium, to convention center expansion, and more. Often the candidates agreed that the issues needed solutions – but disagreed on what the solutions should be.
One of the most contentious topics was the secret nature of a budget deal brokered in Sacramento by Assemblyman Fletcher to lift the cap on redevelopment funds to the city. Both Carl Demaio and Bonnie Dumanis attacked Fletcher for his role in the deal since city officials didn’t know what was going down until after the measure passed the legislature. Fletcher defended himself, pointing out there was a two-thirds vote by the legislature and San Diego got to keep money it otherwise would have lost due to Governor Jerry Brown’s elimination of redevelopment agencies statewide.
Demaio touted his record on the city council as being on the side of the people on so many issues, and he held up a thick booklet “A Roadmap to Recovery,” that is his plan to put the city back on a solid financial footing. “We need to get the economy moving again.”
Dumanis stressed her leadership in the District Attorney’s Office, and said “I can make tough decisions. We can’t trust a mayor who can’t make tough decisions.”
Filner referred to his opponents' strengths – Demaio’ s fiscal conservatism, Dumanis’ ability to make tough decisions and Fletcher’s desire to turn the page in San Diego to a new era - and said, “You get ‘em all with me! I’m going to take on the special interests.”
Fletcher cited his military experience as a leadership qualification to be the city’s chief executive. “I’ve led men in combat,” he emphasized. “I have made life and death decisions with no margin of error.”
To be sure, the forum was colorful as well as illuminating.
“It was a great event!” said 2L Nicole Heffel. “It was an excellent opportunity to see and hear from all the candidates. I would encourage all of those who vote to sit in on a debate. They might be surprised with what they take away.”
3L David Gibbs agreed. “It was absolutely fantastic,” he said. “It was a great opportunity for students to hear the candidate’s views, and it was great for TJSL to be able to highlight our presence in the East Village.”