While much media attention is focused on national politics and Congressional races, it is important to remember that good governance and rising political stars begin at the local level. While we rail at our dysfunction in Congress over immigration and gun control, issues such as social justice are paramount to members of the San Diego community. Policies impacting prison privatization, treatment of prisoners, mental health programs, poverty and homelessness are directly the result of the candidates we elect in the local positions controlling these concerns.
To familiarize club members with the Democratic candidates currently running in these critical non-partisan positions (which means you will NOT see any party affiliation listed on the ballots for these positions) we invited all Democratic candidates running for County Sheriff, District Attorney, County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk, Superior Court Judge, and County Board of Supervisors to speak with us at the February monthly meeting. This meeting also served as an endorsement meeting for these positions.
A few things should be highlighted:
- these positions will be voted on in the JUNE 5th 2018 primary. If any candidate gets 50% + 1 vote they will be the winner automatically and will NOT proceed to a runoff in the November election.
- as of this writing, the Democratic candidate for Sheriff (Dave Myers), District Attorney (Geneviéve Jones-Wright) and County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk (Matt Strabone) are the only Democrat running in their respective race;
- two Democratic candidates are running for the same Superior Court Judge seat (see more below);
- these Democratic candidates do have Republican candidates running against them so they are not running unopposed.
Upon completion of all presentations the candidates were asked to leave the room while club members voted on whom to endorse. The candidates below who have an ** after their name were endorsed by our club.
Esther Sanchez, who was running for County Board of Supervisors was invited and graciously came to speak with us. She explained that she has had to withdraw from the race due to caring for her mom during her fight with cancer. Esther remains committed however, to getting out the vote and will be an active participant in the upcoming election.
County Sheriff, Dave Myers **
Dave Myers has been with the Sheriff’s Department for 32 years and he had once contemplated retiring. “I’ve been at the table but not on the menu for decades,” he explained. “When I look around that table it’s 20 white guys. There is no representation of our diversity in the command structure.” He went on to explain that especially during this time under Trump, hate crimes have increased threefold in the county. “The current sheriff, Bill Gore, was doing commercials for Darrell Issa and he escorted Jeff Sessions to the border wall.” And there hasn’t been a Democrat running in the Sheriff’s race for 60 years! During times like these he felt he can’t yet retire.
Dave feels strongly that it’s time to put some common sense into our justice system. Homelessness and mental health crises need to be decriminalized and we need to stop using the county jail system to hold them. As a recent example of the injustices in our current prison system, he cited the recent example of how U-T reporter Kelly Davis was harassed and served with an order that the courts ultimately struck down, to turn over her notes related to her reporting on the unusually high number of deaths and suicides in our county prisons.
“I am running because I have a true understanding of what goes on in the community. I will listen and change the dynamics of transparency, including use of body cams and release of those recordings within the largest department in the county,” he promised.
Dave has already received the endorsement of the San Diego County Democratic Party. He noted that his Republican opponent and current incumbent Bill Gore, has not gotten the Republican party endorsement. You can read more, donate or sign up to volunteer for his campaign on his website.
District Attorney, Geneviéve Jones-Wright **
“Incarceration is a health crisis” Geneviéve Jones-Wright declared in her opening comments. “The status quo isn’t working.” She spoke passionately about the need to represent the real needs of our veteran, homeless and addicted populations. She went on to describe San Diego’s prison system, over 6,000 inmates strong, as the largest mental health facility in the county.
“We need a District Attorney who will give help, not handcuffs” she explained. “How much can you help someone with mental health issues as a prison staffer?” she asked. Since our prisons are privately funded, there is an incentive to “keep the beds full. How can you profit off the incarcerated?” she queried.
The office Geneviéve is hoping to win was once held by former District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis, who resigned the post in 2017 to run for County Board of Supervisors (but not in our district). Summer Stephan, a Republican, was appointed interim District Attorney and is now running for the role permanently, against Geneviéve.
Dumanis’ legacy is dubious according to Jones-Wright. Although Dumanis claimed to be a national expert in Human Trafficking, in 2016 she opposed a bill that would vacate the conviction of a victim solely because they were a victim. “When your only focus is on conviction,” she explained, “you can’t focus on justice and fairness.” Dumanis has also left behind a backlog of 2,873 untested rape kits.
“We have a chance to bring humanity and compassion back and break the back of recidivism by focusing on root causes,” she stated. That is the focus of her campaign. Her goal? “Compassion, not handcuffs” she said.
You can read more about her native San Diegan background on her website.
County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk, Matt Strabone **
Matt Strabone introduced himself to club members, describing himself as a “first time candidate and non-profit and ethics attorney”. This seemingly obscure position is responsible for deciding on amount of property taxes, issuing licenses and birth certificates, and takes care of all county records.
This may seem unimportant or boring, but “public records belong to all of us and should be available, for free and online” he said. His opponent, incumbent Ernie Dronenberg, charges $2 per page and you have to go downtown to retrieve them. “Marriage licenses should be a no brainer” he exclaimed. Dronenberg had resisted issuing licenses to gay applicants, and says he will go back to that stance should Trump change the law. The County Assessor’s office is also the only office that can audit businesses.
This election will be decided in the June primary because Strabone and Dronenberg are the only two candidates running. “This is a not a partisan position, nor should it be” Matt explained, “but it’s too bad my opponent injected ideology into his role and he sought all the Republican and Lincoln Club endorsements that turned this into a political race.”
Read more about Matt’s campaign on his website.
Superior Court Judge, Matt Brower **
Remember fringe candidate birther Gary Kreep who became Superior Court Judge in 2012? Kreep made a name for himself by launching an unsuccessful ballot initiative to keep President Obama’s name off the California ballot unless he produced his long form birth certificate. Kreep’s six year term on the bench has been riddled with scandals resulting in censure for violating a number of ethics rules. Due to his discriminatory treatment of women, minorities and litigators he was transferred to traffic court and now has been relegated to only resolving landlord/tenant disputes. Matt Brower feels we can do better.
Matt has both a legal and military background. He is still in the Marine Corp Reserves after having spent 8 years on active duty, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He served as both a Deputy District Attorney and and Marine Judge Advocate. He is concerned about how we can support our European allies in the face of the Russian threat. He is adamant that substance abuse should first be viewed as a mental health issue.
He has been endorsed by the San Diego County Democratic Party and has a great deal of support from within the law enforcement community. Read more about his campaign here.
Superior Court Judge, Tim Nader
Tim is the other Democrat running for the same seat as Brower above. Tim was not able to attend our meeting but he did send a representative from his campaign. Nader feels he is the best candidate to replace Kreep because he has the most name recognition from his time as Chula Vista Mayor and on City Council in the 90’s. He has served on the Board of Southwestern College since 2010 and says he “knows how to win an election”. He has served as Deputy Attorney General in the Business & Tax Section of the California Attorney General’s office (handling advanced civil litigation in business regulation and tax), since 2008 to the present. Read more on his website.