September 25th, 2016

Politifest 2016 — From A to Z

Politicos, Civic Leaders, Journalists Gather to Talk Open Democracy, Elections and Public Policy.


November general election voters in San Diego will be faced with the daunting task of wading through a record number of ballot items — a bewildering 12 citywide and two countywide measures, as well as 17 statewide propositions.

Politifest enthusiasts gathered Saturday at San Diego State University (SDSU) for a series of keynote addresses, debates and candidate forums focused on this year’s local ballot measures, statewide propositions and races for elective office.

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Scott Lewis, Politifest 2016

Presented by Voice of San Diego and SDSU’s School of Journalism and Media Studies, the all-day public affairs conference featured debates on two local ballot measures — one citywide, one countywide — that drew large audiences and spirited discussions: Measure A (Repair San Diego) and Measure C (Chargers stadium). Candidate forums focused on key races for San Diego City Attorney, pitting Democrat Mara Elliot against Republican Robert Hickey, and San Diego City Council District 9, with candidates Georgette Gomez and Ricardo Flores.

Other sessions of note included a panel on Open Democracy presented by the San Diego Foundation, and a discussion on Follow the Money, featuring former San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye and local political consultant Tom Shepard. 

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Ron Roberts

With the general election little more than six weeks away, voters will be presented with a significant opportunity to address regional transportation challenges through countywide Measure A. The Repair San Diego measure would raise the region’s sales tax and allocate the funds to roadway improvements, transit and open space preservation.

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Nicole Capretz

Joining the debate were County Supervisor Ron Roberts, City Councilman Todd Gloria and environmentalist Michael Beck, all proponents of the measure. In the opposition were climate change advocate Nicole Capretz, National City Planning Commission chairman Marcus Bush and Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery.

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Todd Gloria

If approved by voters, Measure A would increase the sales tax by a half-cent and apply the funds to transportation projects throughout the region. It would raise roughly $18.2 billion over the next four decades. Approximately 42 percent of the dollars would go to public transit infrastructure; 30 percent to municipalities in the county to spend on local projects; 14 percent to highway enhancements; and 11 percent to open space conservation. In addition, 3 percent of the funds would go to walking and biking projects.

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Chris Cate

On the stadium front, the debate featured Measure C opponents Julie Meier-Wright, former CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, architect Rob Quigley and San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate. Though not the Chargers’ first string of advocates, project proponents included land-use consultant Marcela Escobar-Eck, Jason Riggs of the San Diego Stadium Coalition and Thomas Powell of Save Our Bolts.

Julie Meier-Wright

Julie Meier-Wright

The Chargers’ measure seeks to raise the city of San Diego’s hotel-room tax rate from effectively 12.5 percent to 16.5 percent — a whopping 32 percent increase in the tax paid by visitors — to underwrite the construction of a joint stadium and convention center facility in the heart of downtown. Jacob Sandoval of the Voice of San Diego chronicles Saturday’s stadium discussion in this piece on the Measure C debate.

For a complete run down on the November ballot, see the Voice of San Diego’s “Ultimate Guide to the Local Ballot Measures.”

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