SAN DIEGO – In a race to become San Diego’s next mayor, candidates Barbara Bry and Todd Gloria squared off Wednesday in a forum about their budget priorities for communities of color.
Local residents questioned the candidates in the forum put on by the Community Budget Alliance, a coalition of local organizations which champions “equitable public investment” in the city. They touched on a range of issues including affordable housing and environmental issues as well as how the candidates plan to draft a budget should they become the city’s highest-ranking public official.
Opening statements from Bry, currently the president pro tem of San Diego City Council, and Gloria, who represents the 78th California Assembly District in Sacramento, stood as a shot to differentiate between the two Democratic candidates.
“I was the first elected official to demand answers and transparency about the disastrous 101 Ash Street purchase lead by my opponent when he was on the City Council,” Bry said.
“Never in our city’s history have we elected a person of color or a queer person to the mayor’s office,” Gloria said. “We have the chance to make that history in this election and I promise I will have an administration as diverse as the community I seek to lead and as diverse as the community I seek to serve.”
Moderators pressed the candidates on how their budgets would benefit minority communities. They also were asked about how they would prioritize redefining public safety, workers’ justice, tenants’ rights and about the environment.
On policing, both Gloria and Bry called for changes to local law enforcement’s response in cases of mental health, with the homeless and on issues of truancy and traffic enforcement.
“I think that these are important steps to make sure those who are trained professionals to do that work rather than law enforcement who often are not trained to do this work,” Gloria said.
Both candidates also acknowledged they face a major budget deficit due to the pandemic. But rapid-fire questioning displayed areas where the candidates differed.
On support of a tenant protection ordinance that would create a rent registry to collect eviction data, Gloria said he did, adding “I believe that’s going to be state law in the not-too-distant future.” But facing a budget crunch, Bry said she didn’t “want to commit to creating anything new within the city at this time.”
On affordable housing, Bry said the pandemic has offered an opportunity for “adaptive reuse of office buildings and commercial buildings,” which she noted was cheaper than building new structures.
Gloria argued that Bry has used “fairly divisive language” on affordable housing issues and called on the rhetoric surrounding the issue to change.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3. All California voters are scheduled to receive a mailed ballot prior to Election Day with in-person and early voting options available.