City Council District 5 candidates Joe Leventhal and Marni von Wilpert. Campaign photos

San Diego City Council District 5 candidates Joe Leventhal and Marni von Wilpert were each successful in lawsuits over their ballot descriptions for the Nov. 3 election.

Levanthal, an attorney and former member of the city’s ethics commission, sued von Wilpert, a deputy city attorney, over her ballot description as a prosecutor. She primarily handles civil cases for the city, but those include cases targeting business fraud.

A judge directed von Wilpert to use the description “Deputy City Attorney, City of San Diego,” saying voters might not understand the distinction between civil and criminal cases.

“If von Wilpert continues to use the title ‘prosecutor’ in her campaign materials, she will be ignoring a Superior Court judge’s ruling that she is being ‘false and misleading,’” said Leventhal in a statement after the ruling.

However, von Wilpert celebrated a win in a lawsuit by a District 5 voter over Leventhal’s use of “small business owner” in his ballot description. Leventhal is managing partner in the San Diego office of Dinsmore & Shohl, a national law firm based in Ohio.

“Clearly Leventhal is trying to hide his shameful record working at a massive corporate law firm defending white collar crime and exploiting tax loopholes for big corporations,” said Dan Rottenstreich, a spokesman for the von Wilpert campaign.

The von Wilpert campaign also released a poll showing a 29% to 24% lead, though 44% of voters remain undecided. In the March primary, von Wilpert led Leventhal by 39.8% to 36.9% in a field that included two other candidates.

The race is officially non-partisan, but von Wilpert is a Democrat and Leventhal a Republican. The district’s registration is nearly evenly split among Republicans, independents, and Democrats.

District 5, which is currently represented by termed-out Councilman Mark Kersey, includes the communities of Black Mountain Ranch, Carmel Mountain Ranch, Scripps Ranch, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Peñasquitos, Sabre Springs, San Pasqual and Torrey Highlands.

Chris Jennewein

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