Barbara Bry conceded Tuesday night that she trailed fellow Democrat Todd Gloria in the San Diego mayor race — but wouldn’t concede the race.
The councilwoman was nearly 13 percentage points behind the 78th District Assembly member (56.3% to 43.7%) with 64.4% of county results reported.
But she recalled her comeback from a 3,000-vote deficit in the March primary, eventually topping Republican Councilman Scott Sherman for a runoff spot by 1,189 votes.
“We made up a lot of ground in the primary,” she said at an outdoor gathering with family and backers aired on Zoom. “Lot of votes left to count and [I] could close the gap with absentee voters who voted today [and] whose votes will come in over the next two days.”
Gloria expressed confidence about his chances.
“Tonight, I believe we have made more than history,” he said.
Bry’s tone in the 10 p.m. statement edged into valedictory.
“I’ve lived my life without regrets,” she said. “You know my age. I’m 71. Got an MBA from Harvard when few women were getting an MBA anywhere … (with) few women in the room.”
Either Gloria or Bry will replace termed-out Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Appearing with her husband Neil, daughter and son-in-law Sarah and Jason Jager and two grandchildren, Bry said she was proud of what she’d done at City Hall, “particularly getting SDSU West over the finish line despite a large number of special interests trying to kill it every which way.”
She called the Mission Valley effort one of the most transformational projects for our region in decades.
“One of the main reasons I ran for mayor was the city can’t continue doing things the way it has,” Bry said. “We have to think in new ways. This is what I’ve had to do my whole life. And I care deeply about building a city that’s going to work for the next generation.”
She ended with thanks to her supporters.
“We’ll stay in touch over the next few days, as the results get counted,” she said.
Gloria was considered the front-runner after the primary, in which he earned 41.5% of the vote to Bry’s 22.9%, but the race had become significantly more competitive since. Third-place finisher Sherman took 22.6% of the vote, and many were likely to break for Bry, the more conservative of the two Democrats.
Sherman endorsed Gloria the day before the election.
Both candidates shared many big-picture goals, such as police reform, alleviating the region’s homelessness problem and fixing the city’s infrastructure.
Bry was elected to the 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 says she would 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, D-San Juan Capistrano, National Organization for Women CALIFIA Now, 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. He assumed the Assembly 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.
Updated at 6:15 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020
— City News Service contributed to this report.