Todd Gloria and Barbara Bry
Todd Gloria and Barbara Bry. Campaign photos

San Diego will have a new face at the helm after the Nov. 3 election, in which voters will select a successor to Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and regardless of who wins, a Democrat will occupy the mayor’s office for the first time since 2014.

Assemblyman Todd Gloria and San Diego City Council President Pro Tempore Barbara Bry are facing off in what has become a contentious race.

Gloria was likely considered the frontrunner after the primary, which he won with 41.5% of the vote to Bry’s 22.9%, but the race has become significantly more competitive than those results suggest. Third-place finisher Councilman Scott Sherman is a Republican, and many of the 22.6% of the vote he earned is likely to break for Bry, the more conservative of the two Democrats.

According to a SurveyUSA research conducted for KGTV and the San Diego Union-Tribune in early October, the race is deadlocked, with 39% backing Gloria and 38% Bry. However, nearly a quarter of voters are undecided.

Both candidates share many big-picture goals, such as police reform, alleviating the region’s homelessness problem and fixing the city’s infrastructure.

Bry, 71, was elected to the San Diego City Council in 2016 to represent District 1, which includes the communities of La Jolla, Carmel Valley, Torrey Pines, University City and Del Mar Heights. She is a La Jolla resident who has called the city home for nearly 40 years. Before joining the council, she was a journalist and tech entrepreneur. She holds a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard.

She says she will tackle the root causes of homelessness, including substance abuse and mental health issues.

Bry has been adamantly opposed to development changing the character of single-family neighborhoods. She also wants to ban dockless scooter companies and short-term home rentals from operating in the city.

“My first priority will always be to keep every community safe and healthy,” she said. “And I will always recognize, protect and respect the rights of our communities to resist inappropriate development.”

She has advocated for an independent police review commission, but says defunding the police is a dangerous move for the city.

“I’m painfully aware that not all our residents, particularly African- Americans and Latinos, trust the police to protect rather than harass their families,” she said. “But they are as vulnerable or more vulnerable to the impacts of crime and violence as others in our community, and every San Diego family deserves protection from those impacts.”

Her endorsements include La Prensa, Father Joe Carroll of Father Joe’s Villages, criminal justice reformer Genevieve Jones-Wright, Rep. Mike Levin, National Organization for Women, Save San Diego Neighborhoods and San Diego Jewish World.

Gloria, 42, is a Mission Hills resident and a third-generation San Diegan of Filipino, Native American, Dutch and Puerto Rican descent. He was elected to the San Diego City Council in 2008 and served until 2016, including two years as council president and six months as acting mayor after Mayor Bob Filner resigned amid numerous sexual harassment claims. Gloria assumed the Assemblyman role for the 78th District in 2016.

“San Diegans deserve a mayor who understands these tough problems, who has experience in running the city well, and the leadership and vision to move our city beyond business as usual,” Gloria said.

Ending homelessness in the city is his stated top priority, with a focus on permanent supportive housing instead of temporary shelters.

“We cannot claim to be America’s Finest City when thousands of people live unsheltered and dying on our streets,” he said.

Increasing the housing supply near transit and job centers is another of his goals if elected mayor.

“I’m a renter and I understand how hard it is to afford higher and higher rents, let alone to buy a home in San Diego,” he said. “This is a reality for many San Diegans who work hard and still can’t afford market-rate housing, yet earn too much to qualify for housing assistance.”

Gloria introduced the city’s climate action plan as interim mayor and has made following that plan one of his core goals.

Gloria has been endorsed by the San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego County Democratic Party, California Nurses Association, San Diego Police Officers Association, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

— City News Service

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