By Matt Valenti
It may seem that Americans are more deeply divided along political lines than ever. But there are still plenty of thoughtful citizens who cast their vote based on who they think is best for the job, not whether the candidate plays for the red team or the blue team.
That’s especially true in San Diego, where bipartisan compromises on the San Diego City Council are commonplace, and Democrats and Republicans throughout the county still collaborate productively on solutions to pressing local issues like housing and homelessness.
The truth is, what matters most to voters isn’t the party of the candidate, but their record, temperament, and integrity. And this election cycle, there are plenty of great Democrats who are earning the votes of independents and Republicans alike.
Voters where I live in central San Diego, for example, have several excellent Democrats to choose from this year.
Tommy Hough, running for city council in District 6, is a political outsider who owes no one any favors. I ran against him in the primary, where I always found him to be an honorable opponent. I’ve since endorsed him because I know he has real integrity and truly cares about our community.
Compare that to the incumbent he’s running to replace: a politician steeped in the swamp of downtown lobbyists and special interests, who’s been investigated for ethic violations by no less than four separate law enforcement agencies over the last year. This race is an easy call regardless of party.
Sunday Gover, a candidate for state assembly, is another political outsider who presents a sharp contrast to her opponent. She’s a mother and small business owner, not a career politician like her opponent, who is about as beholden to special interests and his campaign donors as they come.
Nathan Fletcher, running for county supervisor against Bonnie Dumanis, is another clear pick regardless of your usual party preference. Dumanis comes from a shady world of backroom deals, including taking illegal campaign contributions from a controversial Mexican businessman.
Fletcher, on the other hand, is a former Marine and a dedicated public servant whose grasp of county budgetary policy is impressive. He’ll bring an important balancing voice to the Board of Supervisors which is currently all GOP.
Finally, let’s not forget Matt Brower, who’s running for Superior Court Judge. Another former Marine, Brower is a successful prosecutor who would make a far more respected judge than his opponent Gary Kreep, who was nearly thrown off the bench by his fellow judges because of his unethical conduct in court. This is another easy call.
The thing that all these Democrats have in common is honesty and integrity—the most important qualifications for any public service role. They also happen to be running against opponents who are the poster children for all the worst kinds of corrupt, inside politics.
And Democrats like these can be found on the ballots in every district across San Diego County. A great example: Amar Campa-Najjar, who is running for Congress on a platform of “Country over Party” against a disturbingly corrupt incumbent who is currently under indictment. Campa-Najjar is someone anyone could be proud to vote for, whether you consider yourself red, blue, or some shade of purple. Integrity, not party, should always be the deciding factor.
The political polarization that’s gripping Washington may not be going anywhere anytime soon. But if you live in San Diego, let’s face it: it’s a good year to vote Democrat.
Matt Valenti is an attorney, former San Diego city council candidate, and board member of the community advocacy group Save San Diego Neighborhoods.