Five challengers seek to unseat Campbell in San Diego City Council District 2

One of the most competitive races in San Diego’s June 7 primary election is the District 2 City Council race, where the incumbent Jen Campbell faces five challengers in hopes of overthrowing her.

The neighborhood, which includes Clairemont, Mission Beach, and Point Loma, is at the center of several heated debates in city politics, including the redevelopment of municipally owned Sports Arena and the regulation of short-term home rentals popularized by Airbnb.

Campbell touts the city’s future regulatory system for short-term rentals as one of his proudest accomplishments on council. The issue had been deadlocked for years, with hardliners on both sides.

Campbell said she brokered the compromise, which was codified into city law on Tuesday.

“We will close the chapter on the unregulated market that has vexed our city, our residents and bona fide hosts who wanted a clear set of guidelines to follow,” Campbell said.

The rules limit the number of full-time vacation rentals to 1% of the city’s housing stock, which Campbell says “will bring thousands of homes back into our housing market and bring stability, normality and peace.” in our neighborhoods.

But, while Campbell is proud of the ordinance, her opponents in the race see it as a betrayal of her constituents, many of whom wanted tougher rules.

Among these adversaries is Mandy Havlik, activist and member of the peninsula’s volunteer Community Planning Committee, which advises the city on land use planning issues. Havlik was skeptical of the growth and density of housing in the neighborhood.

“I’m just tired of not having responsive government or transparent government,” Havlik said. “A lot of my background is in customer service, and I feel like that’s something the office is missing.”

KPBS spoke with Havlik and three other candidates at a debate Wednesday night, which Campbell said she couldn’t attend due to a scheduling conflict.

Was also present Joel Day, a UCSD lecturer and former staffer of former Mayor Kevin Faulconer, whom he advised on the city’s COVID-19 response. He was backed by a handful of unions, Democratic clubs and community activists.

Day presents himself as the most thoroughgoing candidate, with a short, medium and long-term plan to tackle his top priority: homelessness.

“We need safe campsites for people to move into the continuum of care and out of the front steps and streets,” Day said. “We need block leasing or head leasing so the city can place people directly into units with no security deposit, no credit check, which are huge barriers to entry to quickly rehouse people. And then, finally, we have to build units that are deeply affordable.”

Linda Lukacs is a dentist, dental hygiene teacher and real estate agent. She was endorsed by Faulconer, former District 2 council member Lorie Zapf and the Lincoln Club curator. One of her top priorities is fixing San Diego’s crumbling infrastructure, though she said she doesn’t want to pay for those repairs with higher taxes.

“A lot of us are taxed out of state,” Lukacs said. “I don’t know how much more burden we can bear. So my goal is to seek alternative funding measures, to get as much as we can from the state and our federal governments, and, only if we we’ve exhausted all other resources, then we can talk about raising taxes.”

Lori Saldana is a former state assemblyman and retired community college professor. She said she was the most experienced candidate and the only one, besides the incumbent, to have represented neighborhood residents in elective office.

Saldaña ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2012, for mayor in 2016, and for county supervisor in 2018. She said her record in the legislature shows she was ahead of the curve in supporting progressive issues such as same-sex marriage and the prohibition of the open carrying of firearms.

“I think as the state changed, I really pushed, pushed, pushed on these issues – if not for me to pass them around with my name on them, so that others in future sessions get them across,” Saldaña said.

San Diego voters have historically favored the incumbents, though more recent elections have shattered that trend. Campbell herself ousted Zapf in 2018, riding the “blue wave” backlash against Republicans. She has a major advantage in terms of fundraising and support from elected officials, and she successfully quashed a recall attempt last year.

Notably absent from the list of his endorsements is the San Diego County Democratic Partywho rarely refuses to back incumbent Democrats.

The two candidates with the most votes in the primary will face each other in a second round on 8 November.

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