Dec. 29 2010 10:40 AM

2010 gave us knowledge about a couple of City Council districts, Jerry Sanders, North County and school-board voters

David Alvarez and Lorie Zapf
Photos by David Rolland
Here’s a short sampling of what the local 2010 elections taught us:

• San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has limited appeal. In June, San Diego voters looked at Sanders and felt safe enough to make permanent a governance system under which the mayor has power over day-to-day city operations. But throughout summer and fall, the Republican Sanders campaigned hard, along with Democratic City Council members Todd Gloria and Donna Frye, for a modest sales-tax increase to stave off severe cuts to essential services, including police and fire protection. Sanders wasn’t certain Prop. D would pass, but he was flabbergasted by the margin of defeat—62 percent to 38 percent. Personal popularity is, obviously, far outweighed by “Keep your mitts off my pennies.”

• Donna Frye’s mojo alone was no match for San Diego City Council District 6 voters’ interest in downsizing government. A Democrat has held the swing seat since Valerie Stallings beat incumbent Bruce Henderson in 1991. But Frye’s never been a big fan of campaigning or fund-raising, and so, she wasn’t much help for her chief of staff, Steven Hadley, in overcoming his lack of name recognition in the primary election. In the general election, Frye and the local Dems couldn’t overcome Howard Wayne’s lack of personality amid Republican and eventual winner Lorie Zapf ’s focus on public pensions and outsourcing services.

• Voters in San Diego City Council District 8 can think outside the Vargas-Inzunza-Hueso box. Juan Vargas took over the seat representing San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, Barrio Logan, Logan Heights and Sherman Heights in 1993. After Vargas jumped to the state Assembly in 2001, the seat went to his chief of staff, Ralph Inzunza. After Inzunza resigned amid scandal in 2005, the seat went to Inzunza family friend Ben Hueso, who had hoped to hand his office over to his older brother, Felipe. But David Alvarez thwarted that plan by running a far more disciplined and effective campaign.

• County Supervisor Bill horn hasn’t yet reached the bottom of arrogance and rule-breaking—at least not in the eyes of District 5 voters. But he keeps plunging. Before the June primary, the conservative North County Times editorial board dismissed horn’s long list of past follies and endorsed him (The San Diego Union-Tribune could not). After the primary, even the NCT pulled its endorsement amid revelations that horn had not followed the county’s own laws when he made improvements to his property. This year, horn also added to his list violating rules for handing out taxpayer money and allegedly having illegal conversations with a development applicant before a vote. Still, he won reelection handily. What will it take, North County voters, evidence of ritual sacrifice of kittens?

• Name recognition means way more than party affiliation in county Board of Supervisors District 4. As of November, there were more than 131,000 Democrats in District 4 and less than 68,000 Republicans. In fact, Dems almost outnumber Republicans plus voters who decline to state their affiliation (135,731 total). Still, Republican Ron Roberts continued to win reelection this year. Voters recognize incumbents’ names and, since no major scandals have beset county government, the status quo suits them just fine. Ironically, when voters approved term limits for county supervisors in June, we also learned that distaste for politicians in general trumps seat-by-seat status-quo satisfaction.

• San Diego County is not union-friendly. Unions were put on the defensive this year by forces hostile to project labor agreements, under which local governments and developers sign on, in advance, to a set of labor rules and conditions for specific public-works projects. Unions like PLAs because they provide benefits for workers in exchange for a promise not to strike. Voters said yes to anti-PLA measures in Chula Vista, Oceanside and unincorporated San Diego County.

• San Diego is union-friendly—or, at least the people who vote in school-board elections are. Voters booted from office John de Beck and Katherine Nakamura, the last remaining members of the San Diego Unified School District who were perceived to be anti-union. We say “perceived” because de Beck has long been a union guy, but he’d increasingly become a teachers-union antagonist, and the union briefly supported Republican Scott barnett (until he came out against a school parcel tax). In the other race, pro-union candidate Kevin Beiser drubbed opponent Steve Rosen 57 percent to 42 percent. All this is particularly impressive in the year Waiting for Superman hit movie theaters.

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