Four seats on the City Council will be at stake when San Diegans go to the polls today, with the possibility of close races for two of the spots.
Even-numbered districts will be decided this year, and candidates who receive more than 50 percent of the vote will win office outright. Otherwise, the two top vote-getters will proceed to November's general election.
Councilwoman Myrtle Cole is unopposed in District 4 in Southeast San Diego. Councilman and one-time mayoral candidate David Alvarez faces retired contractor Lincoln Pickard in District 8, which includes Barrio Logan, Otay Mesa and San Ysidro.
The most competitive races are believed to be in District 2, the Point Loma-to-Pacific Beach seat vacated by Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and District 6, representing Clairemont Mesa, Kearny Mesa and Mira Mesa.
Councilwoman Lorie Zapf is seeking reelection by switching from her current District 6 to District 2. When the council district boundaries were redrawn a couple of years ago, Zapf's residence fell into Faulconer's old district.
Since joining the council nearly four years ago, Zapf has focused on reducing red tape at City Hall for businesses, has led the committee that handles land use issues and has helped push through programs to rebuild the San Diego Police Department, which faces a shortage of officers.
"Councilwoman Lorie Zapf is the public safety advocate our community needs," said Brian Marvel, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association. "There is a great deal at stake for our city and police department over the coming months and years -- we know Lorie is prepared to find solutions that lead to a brighter future."
The city's firefighters union and lifeguards, on the other hand, are supporting former federal prosecutor Sarah Boot.
"I am deeply honored and humbled to receive these important endorsements from San Diego's firefighters and lifeguards," Boot said at a recent news conference. "The residents of District 2 know I'm a strong advocate for public safety and our beaches, and I'm very grateful for the recognition from these vital organizations."
Pacific Beach community activist Jim Morrison and Mark Schwartz, a marketer of organic fertilizers, are also in the race.
Democrat Ed Harris, who was appointed earlier this year to finish Faulconer's term, is not looking to remain in office.
With Zapf's transfer, District 6 becomes an open seat. The contenders are San Diego County Taxpayers Association Vice President Chris Cate, special education assistant Jane Glasson, education consultant Carol Kim, community and veterans activist De Le and ex-San Diego Unified School District Trustee Mitz Lee.
The outcome of the races will determine whether or not Democrats on the technically nonpartisan City Council will hold their veto-proof majority. Zapf and Cate are Republicans, and Boot and Kim are Democrats.
Six votes are required to override mayoral vetoes, and with Harris in office, the Democrats hold a 6-3 advantage on the council. Whether the margin holds, increases or shrinks below the threshold will impact contentious issues that might arise in the future, although the council members agree with each other and the Republican Faulconer on most things.
—City News Service