San Diegans head to the polls on Tuesday, June 7, for a statewide primary election, choosing pairs of candidates who will then be sent on to the general election ballot in November. While there are many, many races to vote on, some are closer than others, some are of more interest than others, and some have more of an effect on voters' lives than others. Here are some of the contests NBC 7 thinks bear extra scrutiny:
Dozens of candidates are vying to take the seat formerly occupied by now-U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. The seat has been temporarily occupied by Alex Padilla, the state's former secretary of state who was elevated to the position by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Padilla, of course, would like to permanently fill the seat he has kept for two years.
According to the Sacramento Bee, Padilla's most formidable Republican challenger, at least financially, may be Jon Elist, whose coffers are more swollen with campaign cash than the other competitors. Elist is a self-described businessman and son of Iranian refugees who has worked for the Small Business Administration and is the CEO of International Medical Devices.
Padilla faces both Elist as well as five other Democrats and nine other Republicans, two members of the Green party, one from the Peace and Freedom party, and four people who have not opted for a party preference.
And if that's not confusing enough, Californians will vote FOUR TIMES for this U.S. Senate seat, due to some legal questions surrounding the governor's ability to fill lengthy appointments rather than having a special election replace a senator who leaves office early. Two of the elections will decide whether Padilla can finish this term, while the other pair involve filling the senator's seat in January for a full term.
Hey, it's California. We love an election. We love four elections four times as much.
San Diego County Sheriff
Seven candidates are vying to fill the role of San Diego County Sheriff after Bill Gore retired in early 2022. The sheriff is responsible for county courts, jails, 4,600 employees, a $1 billion budget and the public safety of nearly a million residents.
NBC 7 spoke with three of the prime contenders in May, including Dave Myers, a retired sheriff's commander with more than 30 years of experience; Acting Sheriff Kelly Martinez, who has been with the department for 37 years, currently serves as undersheriff and, if she wins, will be the first woman to lead the department; and John Hemmerling — a former Marine and San Diego police officer — who is now the chief criminal prosecutor for the San Diego City Attorney’s Office.
San Diego County Board of Supervisors, District 4
Some local politicos are watching this one closely because incumbent Nathan Fletcher was the local face of COVID masking anger and are wondering: Will voters turn out against him because of it?
The district sits squarely in central coastal San Diego and encompasses just over 100 square miles, comprising communities as diverse as Lemon Grove, Rancho San Diego, Hillcrest and City Heights.
Fletcher is a veteran of the San Diego County political scene, having served in the state assembly for two terms before a failed run at the San Diego mayor's office — initially as a Republican before switching to an independent — in 2011. He made another attempt, this time as a Democrat, in 2013 after Bob Filner left the office in disgrace, but lost to Kevin Faulconer.
Fletcher returned to San Diego's political landscape in 2018, winning the District 4 seat on the board of supervisors, which had long been Republican-dominated, but, as the county turned blue and did the board, was elevated by his colleagues to the chair of that body.
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On her campaign website, Reichert, a co-founder of ReOpen San Diego, describes herself as an "active member of the community who championed for the reopening of schools and businesses."
"The board of supervisors locked the people out from facing their elected officials for 13 months," Reichert says on her candidate page. "I led and organized a 'Let Us In' rally so elected officials could hear the cries and see the tears of the people who were hurting from prolonged lockdowns."
Hooker is a self-described community activist running as "a compassionate young millennial who strongly advocates for equal opportunity for everyone in District 4."
She grew up in City Heights, has worked for nearly a dozen years as an afterschool tutor, has interned for local political parties and is currently employed by LinkedIn as a diversity and inclusion coordinator, she states on her campaign page.
49th Congressional District
New boundaries in the 49th congressional district make this election highly contested in what's considered a battleground district.
The 49th has been re-drawn and now spans from Del Mar to Dana Point. Previously, it included parts of the city of San Diego, like La Jolla, but California's Citizens Redistricting Commission redrew the boundaries based off the last census. The new boundaries make it a swing district: 36% of voters are registered Democrats, 33.6 are registered Republicans, and the rest are independents.
Mike Levin, the incumbent Democratic candidate, is running for a third term. He calls himself a bipartisan problem-solver and wants voters to remember his work on more than a dozen veterans bills and his commitment to the climate crisis.
Levin is facing six challengers, including previous opponent Republican Brian Maryott, who lost to Levin by 6 percentage points in 2020. Maryott is a former certified financial planner and mayor of San Juan Capistrano who hopes the new district boundaries — plus Americans' frustration with the economy — will give him an advantage this time around.
San Diego City Council District 2
Jen Campbell, the current council member for District 2 and incumbent candidate in the June 7 primary election, is facing five challengers in this election.
The entire Clairemont neighborhood has been united in District 2's new boundaries, which were drawn by a volunteer committee after the last census. Old Town has also been added to the district. District 2 still includes Point Loma and Ocean Beach.
Campbell practiced medicine for four decades before being elected to the council. She was serving as city council president from 2020-21, but the council voted for Sean Elo-Rivera to assume that role in December. Campbell also faced a failed recall attempt last year.
One of Campbell's opponents, Mandy Havlik, was an organizer in the effort to recall her. Havlik is a mom, a military spouse and a Peninsula Community Board Planning Board member. She's been a vocal activist against repealing the 30-foot rule in the coastal region and has also advocated for evenly distributing short-term vacation rentals in all San Diego districts.
The district's new addition of eastern Clairemont made former assembly woman Lori Saldana a new contender in the race. Saldana says her six years working in the legislature make her uniquely equipped to tackle important issues like housing and clean energy.
Joel Day also comes from eastern Clairemont. He was planning to run in District 6 but pivoted when his neighborhood was reassigned. He's a college professor, a father of two young children and worked at city hall for four years. He says his most pressing concern is the homelessness crisis in the city.
Linda Lukacs is the lone Republican in the race. She's a dentist, professor and small business owner. She says her top three priorities are homelessness, infrastructure and public safety. She wants to focus on recruitment and retention efforts with SDPD.