Lori Saldaña, the former Assembly member from San Diego, is gearing up for her fourth run for public office since leaving Sacramento in 2010.
The 63-year-old retired business technology teacher has been slow-rolling her candidacy for San Diego City Council in District 2 — where she would challenge incumbent and fellow Democrat Jennifer Campbell.
“I opened my campaign account last week,” she told Times of San Diego on Monday. “I met with my treasurer. We started the process of soliciting contributions and filing the declarations.”
She says she emailed her Candidate Intention Statement to the City Clerk’s Office, but it wasn’t online Monday night. She has plenty of time, though, with Feb. 9 being the first day to pull nomination papers in the race.
Deadline to file papers in the nominally nonpartisan election is March 10 for the June 7 primary.
In a brief phone interview, Saldaña said she’s been a little behind on her personal campaign because of her duties as a member of the San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee.
Formerly in District 6, the San Diego State graduate living in North Clairemont was moved to District 2 due to the latest city remap following the 2020 census.
On Twitter, Saldaña has been teasing her candidacy for weeks. Last week, she noted her endorsement by the San Diego Democrats for Environmental Action.
She won a strategic victory a week ago when the Metro West Area of Democratic clubs voted 26-19 to delay consideration of a “friendly incumbent endorsement” of Councilwoman Campbell.
On Monday, she noted the presence of two Campbell supporters — Rep. Scott Peters and state Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins — on the Zoom session that addressed the early endorsements.
Saldaña found it “not a normal thing” for the high-powered pair to show up at what she called “an obscure meeting” of Democratic insiders.
“It’s the water polo phase,” said Saldaña, who missed a chance at a 2012 runoff for Congress when she lost to Peters by 719 votes in the House primary. “There’s a lot going on under the water that people don’t realize.”
She added: “I’ve seen from the inside how these candidacies are being evaluated and how many people are putting their thumb on the scale” for District 6 and Assembly District 80 as well.
The former independent candidate for mayor (2016) and county supervisor (2018) has had a fraught relationship with the county Democratic Party after taking sides against Democratic Mayor Bob Filner before the sex-harassment scandal that drove him from office.
But Saldaña, who served in the Assembly between 2004 and 2010, eventually returned to the party, and won election to its Central Committee in April 2020 — the top vote-getter in the 77th Assembly District.
“There’s a lot of people concerned that I may …. know where the bodies are buried,” she said. “They don’t like it when I start talking about running for office. It shifts the dynamics of a lot of other races.”
Saldaña says she won’t have a formal campaign kickoff until mid-February at the earliest.
“Traditionally, you get all your volunteers and supporters and you go to a park and take a big photo op,” she said. “With Omicron, there’s a lot of my supporters who say: I’m staying home. I won’t go out with a group of people I don’t know.”
She’s considering a Zoom-style campaign announcement.
(Besides Campbell, 76, running for a second term, other D2 candidates are Democrats Joel Day, Mandy Havlik — a “RecallJen” organizer — and Loxie T. Gant, Republican Linda Lukacs and Leslie Michelle Codling-DiChet.)
Shortly after the Metro West vote to delay a decision on a Campbell endorsement, Saldaña tweeted: “As a publicly elected member of @sandiegodems Central Committee I’m looking forward to a thorough & transparent endorsement process in the District 2 & 6 @SDCityCouncil races.”
She’s been a critic of Campbell for years, though, and even tweaked Councilman Stephen Whitburn in 2020 for not supporting Monica Montgomery Steppe for council president.
Besides the natural environment, Saldaña has special interests in helping the unsheltered and combating the COVID crisis on the streets.
Lately, the avid gardener and butterfly photographer has been sharing her success (or frustration) with the Wordle game app.
“Anyone else developing a #LateNight #Wordle routine?” she tweeted Thursday.