Controversial building deal, false report mix up mayoral race

Local

SAN DIEGO — Elections are less than 2 months away, and the two candidates running for San Diego mayor are embroiled in a controversy over an ill-fated city building deal and an apparently false report about the players involved.

California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria is publicly calling out his opponent, San Diego City Councilmember Barbara Bry, for what he says was playing a role in a fabricated media report.

The 21-story building downtown located at 101 Ash Street is at the root of the matter. The building was purchased by the city in 2016 and has been a problem ever since, one major issue being the fact it was built with hazardous asbestos, meaning millions of tax dollars have been spent to lease a so-far vacant building.

A recent local media report stated then-Councilmember Gloria knew the deal was troubled before it was presented to and eventually approved by the City Council. But that report was later retracted when it was revealed that the documents at the center of the reporting were apparently forged. City officials confirmed that the portion of the documents used for the news story didn’t exist in the real report, and may have been leaked to the media outlet in an attempt to spread disinformation.

Gloria aimed to further debunk the claims Friday afternoon, and pointed the blame at his opponent’s supporters for helping spread them.

“I’m disappointed that what it’s come to in this mayor race and I’m disappointed that some are choosing to seek so low for their own political gain,” Gloria said.

He believes the false report is tied to Bry’s campaign. Gloria said that with the election just 52 days away, his running mate should be putting more of her efforts on winning the race rather than taking political cheap shots.

“It’s imperative that we get to the real issues affecting San Diegans every single day, Gloria said.

But Bry sent FOX 5 a statement following Gloria’s news conference denying any involvement. It says in part, “Mr. Gloria’s claim that I’m running a negative campaign is ridiculous. It’s true that he and I have policy differences … but my campaign has not engaged in the kind of personal attacks and misrepresentations that have formed the foundation for Mr. Gloria’s campaign.”

FOX 5’s political analyst Carol Luna shared some perspective on this latest scandal and why San Diegans should care.

“The average person should care for two reasons. One: it’s taking San Diego politics to a low level, which we don’t usually see. And second: it shows that city government needs to be held more accountable for some bad decisions it’s making that affects your day to day live,” Luna said.

Luna said one of the problems for the two candidates is that they’re both Democrats with less prominent policy differences, so he’s wondering if “Ashgate” may be just another move to set themselves apart from one another.

“It’s a sign that even with just two Democrats running. It can get fast, furious and nasty really quickly between now and November,” stated Luna.

The deal concerning the Ash building is also a hot topic in the race for city attorney. Current City Attorney Mara Elliot released a statement saying it was a done deal by the time she took office, but she’s doing all that she can to resolve the ongoing problem.

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