SAN DIEGO — After serving eight years, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has termed out, and a pair of Democrats with established histories in local politics are vying to replace him in the Nov. 3 election.
The race pits Todd Gloria, a California state assemblyman representing San Diego and a former city council member, against Barbara Bry, the current city council president pro tem and former high tech entrepreneur.
The race between two members of the same party is possible because of California’s Top-Two Primary system, in which the candidates with the most votes move on to the general election regardless of affiliation. Bry narrowly edged out Republican City Councilman Scott Sherman for second place behind front-runner Gloria in March.
That left two politicians from the same party in a competition for city government’s top office, and the race has often centered on attempts to differentiate the candidates, despite their frequently similar stances on statewide and national issues.
After two terms as a member of San Diego City Council, Todd Gloria has served as a state assemblyman representing a large portion of San Diego. His campaign messaging often touts his legislative accomplishments alongside his biography as a third-generation San Diegan, the son of a maid and a gardener who eventually graduated summa cum laude on a scholarship to University of San Diego.
Gloria frequently references that he is a renter himself when advocating for solutions to the city’s housing shortage. He supports the government finding ways to encourage developers to build more units near public transit and job centers, including making it easier to construct affordable and higher density units, though he says it can be done with taxpayer input and without compromising “community character.”
Gloria argues that increasing housing stock is also a crucial step toward addressing San Diego’s homelessness crisis, which he has labeled a “top priority.” Calling previous measures “band-aids,” Gloria has pledged an aggressive, “data-driven” approach to resources and permanent housing solutions.
The assemblyman argues that climate change, and environmental issues are of critical concern to San Diego. During an eight-month stint as interim mayor in 2013, he helped pass the city’s Climate Action Plan, which sets a goal of moving San Diego to 100% renewable energy by 2035.
Gloria would break ground as the first openly LGBTQ mayor of the city.
Read more on Gloria’s top campaign issues on his website.
While Bry is the current leader of San Diego City Council, she often emphasizes her previous experience as an entrepreneur and positions herself as a political outsider, running on a message of greater government transparency and efficiency. “When she joined the City Council, she found a mess at City Hall,” her campaign website claims. “Now, she’s set out to fix it.”
That message informs Bry’s approach on a variety of issues, including her criticism of the city’s decision to buy an asbestos-contaminated building downtown and what she says was the “secretive” way the city handled negotiations with San Diego State University for a new Mission Valley stadium. If elected, she has promised more “transparent” governance.
Bry has also sought to differentiate herself from Gloria on housing issues, opposing zoning requirement changes that could allow construction of more, higher density housing in suburban neighborhoods. She is a long-time opponent of short-term vacation rentals such as Airbnb, which she says make full-time homes harder to find for residents and don’t contribute enough in city taxes.
Bry is calling for a repeal of AB5, the controversial law surrounding how gig workers for apps like Uber are classified, which Gloria co-sponsored. She argues it leaves too many workers without the flexibility to work the way that fits their lifestyle best.
Bry has claimed “too many politicians exploit climate change for political gain,” and argues that too few practical solutions have been put in place to address environmental issues since the passage of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan.
Read more on Bry’s top campaign issues on her website.
For more information on these candidates, check the links in our Voter Resources list, and make sure to check out our entire 2020 November Election Guide.