Tuesday, November 6 should be the beginning of the end of a status quo situation in San Diego that is just. plain. wrong.. All you have to do is vote.
I know, I know. Every campaign and every ballot measure says they’re The One, but this vote will –over the next few years– improve mental health care, help the homeless, and make our corner of the country a better place for all of us to live.
Much of the power over our lives by the government is vested with the five members of the County Board of Supervisors. Most of them have been in office for more than 20 years.
This mostly morbid entity is where the real power and capital exists. Up until this year, this group of mostly white, male, Republican graduates of San Diego State University could serve as long as they cared and even got to draw the lines of the districts they represented.
There are now 170,000+ more registered Democrats than Republicans in the county and we’re somehow being represented by people inclined to an ideology rooted in the past and willfully ignorant of the future of the planet.
They’ve got the whole enchilada of power, much of delegated by the State constitution and function in legislative, executive, and quasi-judicial capacities.
More than two billion dollars sit in reserve accounts, more than three times the amount considered prudent to safeguard against economic downturns. The rules preventing additional spending by the county are mostly self-imposed.
The county government provides countywide services such as elections and voter registration, law enforcement, jails, vital records, property records, tax collection, public health, and –most importantly– social services. While funding isn’t the only answer to our regional problems with mental health and homelessness, a lack of funding certainly does help.
In 2010, the union (SEIU) representing county employees –the people who see problems first hand– did something that unions aren’t supposed to do; they advocated for (and won) a ballot measure mandating term limits. Those limits are coming into play in 2018 and 2020.
Supervisor districts four and five are up for grabs this year.
Over the course of the past few months, I’ve studied a lot of campaign literature and websites. When it comes to issues, I’ve learned to expect platitudes and vague promises; it’s the safe course for most aspiring candidates.
I also interviewed Nathan Fletcher prior to the primary. I was struck by his determination and convinced of his ideological transformation, yet still harbored doubts about the depth of his grasp of the issues.
It wasn’t that I disagreed with “changing the status quo” or “standing up to Trump;” it was the urgency of the tasks facing local government in the coming years.
Now that we’re headed into the general election, my doubts have been more than addressed. Fletcher has put some meat on those bones with some of the most detailed issues/plans pages of any candidate I’ve seen.
It’s going to be an uphill struggle for Nathan Fletcher next year, assuming he wins. I am now convinced he’s capable of laying the groundwork and changing the culture in the county administration in ways that were unimaginable in years past.
With Bonnie Dumanis, it’s all about packaging. She’s the velvet fist of local Republicanism. Trump’s tweets are bad. Diversity isn’t the enemy. Social programs need to be run more efficiently. Her father was a Teamster. And everything’s too “partisan.”
It all sounds quite reasonable until you take a look at who’s paying the freight for this campaign, namely the entities who think progress involves worshiping the idols of the marketplace and working for the common good is a threat to (their) individual freedom.
San Diego’s former District Attorney is running as Judge Bonnie Dumanis, the job she stepped down from in 2003. That’s because she doesn’t want to invoke memories of the campaign finance scandals tainting her previous political efforts.
It also sidesteps questions about how she politicized the county’s prosecutorial apparatus–if you played along with Bonnie, you got along in San Diego politics.
Running as “Judge” Bonnie is also supposed to smooth over the rough edges of her antagonism towards medical marijuana and the people who tried to make it available in San Diego. And it avoids the history of racism in local law enforcement practices.