By Ken Stone
Unfazed by poor finishes in two recent races, attorney Bryan Pease is seeking the District 2 seat on the San Diego City Council — now held by Lorie Zapf.
“Our community needs someone who will fight for us at City Hall, not just rubber-stamp special interest projects and luxury condos,” he said.
Pease, 38, known for protecting harbor seals from eviction at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla, joins fellow progressive Jordan Beane, the senior producer of Chargers.com, as potential challengers in the 2018 council race.
In 2012, when he lived in University Town Center, Pease was a distant third in the District 1 race against Sherri Lightner. In 2016, he was a late entrant for San Diego city attorney and finished last out of five.
He won 7.1 percent of the vote in 2012 and 16.7 percent in the June primary last year.Times of San Diego asked Pease why he thought his chances were appreciably better in D2.
“In 2012, I entered the race five months before the election and ran as in issue candidate against an entrenched incumbent of my own party, who already had the party endorsement (Lightner),” he said in an email interview.
“This was actually an impressive number for running as a political newcomer against a party-endorsed incumbent.
He also entered the city attorney’s race with five months before the election, “again to raise issues that were not being discussed in the debates.”
He points to winning 30,000 votes in that race and was elected to the county Democratic Party’s Central Committee, where he says he was the top vote-getter out of 73 candidates, “with over 23,000 registered Democrats in the county voting for me.”
“Having started so late,” he said, “my city attorney campaign was just gaining momentum when the primary election took place. I am continuing this momentum into the next campaign, which is really just a continuation of that movement.”
He says he won some precincts in District 2, where he once served on the board of the OB People’s Organic Food Co-op, “the largest employer in Ocean Beach.”
Back living in OB — after a 2015-2017 spell in University Heights — Pease says: “I’ve always loved Ocean Beach the most of any place I’ve lived and I am proud to call it my home.
“The only reason I left in 2015 is that I was kicked out by an investor who bought the property where I was living to flip it. This is a problem that is happening all over San Diego but especially in the beach communities, and I think my experience gives me a unique perspective to be able to stand up for the residents.”
Pease grew up in Syracuse, New York, and attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He’s lived in San Diego since 2004 and began his law practice here in 2005.
He co-founded the Animal Protection and Rescue League with his then wife, Catherine “Kath” Rogers.
They were AnimalNews.Info’s “Couple of the Decade” in 2010 but divorced in 2014.
Pease took other questions in an email interview.
Times of San Diego: You’ve moved several times in recent years — from South Park to UTC to OB. (Am I missing any communities?) How do you respond to accusations of carpet-bagging for sake of candidacy?
Bryan Pease: I’ve lived in many San Diego neighborhoods:
- 2004-2006: Bankers Hill
- 2006-2007: Clairemont
- 2007-2011: North Park (owned home)
- 2011-2012: South Park
- First half of 2012: UTC
- 2012-2015: Ocean Beach
- 2015-2017: University Heights
- 2017-present: Ocean Beach
Before that I also lived in Syracuse, N.Y. (where I grew up), Ithaca N.Y. (where I went to college), Albany, N.Y. (where I worked for a state assemblymember), Buffalo, N.Y. (law school), Oxford, England (visiting student during law school) and San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Oakland.
Living in different communities has given me a broader perspective than if I had always lived in one place. I see it as a strength. Even though City Council members represent districts, every vote they take has the potential to have citywide consequences.
I plan to use my knowledge of various areas of the city to make more informed decisions, and to create closer working relationships with the other council members on issues that impact multiple districts.
You’ve established a reputation as the vegan animal-rights activist with a taste for anti-SLAPP suits and public-interest cases. How does this prepare you to help govern San Diego?
The City Council currently has no attorneys on it and needs a public-interest attorney to effectively advocate for the issues that I stand for: government transparency and accountability, environmental and consumer protection, ending chronic homelessness, and protecting civil rights and free speech.
What are the three biggest concerns of D2 residents, and how would you address them?
Homelessness and housing affordability, environmental protection, and public services top the list of nearly every conversation I have about our district.
We need to implement a Housing First model to fight homelessness. Other cities have proven that it works, and there is no reason we should be dragging our feet in the face of such a humanitarian and public health crisis.
Housing affordability is another area where the policy making is lagging far behind the public need. Our middle class and seniors are being crushed by cost of living and people are being driven into homelessness.
With environmental protection, we have made some progress as a city, but there’s much more work to be done. We need to do much more in the area of water conservation, including water wasted by the city itself using outdated sprinkler systems in parks.
In the beach communities, we have a real problem with storm water runoff polluting our beaches and shoreline. People get sick. Tourism dollars are impacted. That’s not acceptable. We also need someone who isn’t afraid to the stand up to SDG&E and push for a community choice energy model that would lower energy costs for families and reduce our carbon footprint.
Public services include a wide range of issues — from 911 wait times to freshly paved streets to library hours — and everything in between.
The basic point is that people want their tax dollars to be returned to them in the form of programs and policies that actually improve their lives. They don’t want to see special deals for greedy corporations or giveaways to billionaires.
While the actual policy answers to all of these issues may differ, it’s really about being willing to prioritize the public interest. I’ve never worried as much about what’s seen as normal as I do about what’s right.
What are your three biggest goals for San Diego, and how would you help achieve them?
There are so many issues that need to be addressed, but if I were to pick three concrete goals they would be:
• Ending chronic homelessness through the Housing First model. Shelter solves sleep; housing and services solve homelessness. Beds are available, but they’re being used for temporary shelter which that data shows is ineffective.
These beds need to be offered as permanent housing with wraparound services. The Housing Commission also needs to stop taking inexcusably long amounts of time to approve new housing for homeless veterans—in some cases many weeks just to inspect a room that sits vacant while the individual remains on the streets.
• Implementing Community Choice Aggregation to decrease energy costs for families and businesses and lower our carbon footprint is crucial to meeting the city’s climate goals.
In order make this happen, we will need to stand up to SGD&E and Sempra Energy. They have deep pockets and well-trained lobbyists here and in Sacramento that help them keep their energy monopoly.
• Forcing SDPD to end the backlog of untested rape kits. This is a moral and legal crisis in which San Diego stands alone with cities its size.
Should labor leader Mickey Kasparian be on the San Diego Democratic Party Central Committee? Why or why not?
Kasparian is an alternate member and the voters did not elect him to be a delegate. Having him as an alternate is up to the elected member who appointed him.
What else should readers know about your D2 candidacy?
For my entire legal and professional career, I have worked tirelessly defending the public interest. I have successfully fought for environmental and consumer protection, defended against employment and housing discrimination, and increased government transparency and accountability. I will continue to fight for these issues as a City Council member.
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