A San Diego City Council meeting on Nov. 19, 2019. Photo by Zoë Meyers/inewsource

San Diego City Hall will be getting a major governmental overhaul beginning with Tuesday’s primary election, with five City Council seats up for grabs and no incumbents in sight.

Add in a termed-out mayor and a six-way battle to replace him, and it equals what promises to be a transformative year for city government.

Council members Barbara Bry and Scott Sherman — from District 1 and 7, respectively — are running for mayor, while District 5’s Mark Kersey is termed out, District 3’s Chris Ward is running for state Assembly and District 9’s Georgette Gómez is running for Congress.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer is termed out, leaving City Attorney Mara Elliott as the only municipal incumbent vying to retain her seat.



A total of 28 candidates are battling for the open council seats — eight in District 1, seven candidates for District 9, five for District 3 and four each for Districts 5 and 7.

The two candidates receiving the most votes in each race will advance to the November general election.

District 1

Bry has been representing District 1, which covers La Jolla and the coast up to Del Mar, Carmel Valley and University City, since 2016.

Vying to replace her are Aaron Brennan, a firefighter and Naval Reserve Officer; Joe LaCava, civil engineer and business owner; Will Moore, small business attorney; Sam Nejabat, small business owner; Harid “H” Puentes, a tech executive; Louis A. Rodolico, environmental journalist; James P. Rudolph, a business attorney; and Lijun “Lily” Zhou, an entrepreneur and instructor. Although the city races are all technically nonpartisan, Zhou is an Independent, while Brennan, LaCava, Moore, Nejabat, Puentes, Rodolico and Rudolph are Democrats.

District 3

Ward has also held his seat since 2016 representing District 3, which covers Central San Diego, including Old Town, Downtown, North Park, Normal Heights and Balboa Park.

The candidates competing for his seat are Toni Duran, a state Senate district representative; Adrian Kwiatkowski, a nonprofit CEO and strategist; Michelle Nguyen, procurement specialist and military Reservist; Chris Olsen, the city’s budget analyst and educator; and Stephen Whitburn, community nonprofit director. The candidates are all Democrats with the exception of Nguyen, who has not revealed her party affiliation.

District 5

District 5, which covers north San Diego, including Black Mountain Ranch, Rancho Bernardo and Rancho Penasquitos, has been represented by Kersey since 2012.

Looking to replace him are Joe Leventhal, an attorney and small business owner; Simon Moghadam, business owner; Marni von Wilpert, a deputy city attorney; and Isaac Wang, technology entrepreneur and Naval Reservist. Leventhal and Moghadam are Republicans, while von Wilpert and Wang are Democrats.

District 7

Sherman has been in his seat since 2012 representing District 7, which covers north-central and northeast San Diego, including Mission Valley, Linda Vista, Serra Mesa and Tierrasanta.

The candidates for District 7 are Raul Campillo, a deputy city attorney; Monty McIntyre, a mediator, arbitrator and business owner; Wendy Wheatcroft, a teacher; and Noli Zosa, a small business owner. Zosa is Republican, while McIntyre, Wheatcroft and Campillo are Democrats.

District 9

Gómez, the council president, has represented District 9, covering east-central San Diego, including Kensington, College Area, City Heights and Southeastern San Diego, since 2016.

Vying for the post are Kelvin H. Barrios, a community outreach director; Sam Bedwell, a small business entrepreneur; Sean Elo, a San Diego Community College District Board of Trustees member; Andrew Gade, small business owner; Johnny Lee Dang, scientist; Ross Naismith, music teacher and nonprofit executive; and Alex Soto, unmanned maritime systems manager. Gade is an Independent, while Barrios, Bedwell, Elo, Dang, Naismith and Soto are Democrats.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.