Driving through San Diego City Council District 1, it sometimes seems as though there are as many campaign signs as palm trees.
But of the eight candidates vying to replace City Councilmember Barbara Bry, who is running to be San Diego’s mayor, only two will ultimately move on to a run-off in November.
NBC 7 sat down with six of the eight candidates. Here they are listed in no particular order.
Joe LaCava is a familiar face around City Hall. The civil engineer has been a vocal policy advocate for years, even briefly running for this City Council seat in 2016.
“I want the job to be a city councilmember so I can [serve the city] on a full-time basis, tackle some of the issues that we can’t seem to resolve in our city, in our neighborhoods,” LaCava explained to NBC 7.
LaCava feels public safety, dockless scooter policy, and short-term vacation rentals are among the biggest issues facing the district.
“We believe we’re a city of laws, we need to enforce the regulations on the books today, and those regulations say that short-term rentals are illegal in our residential neighborhoods, plain and simple,” he said.
LaCava has been endorsed by the San Diego Lifeguards and the Sierra Club of San Diego.
Will Moore is a small business lawyer who has racked up a considerable amount of endorsements, including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board, and some high-profile Democrats like Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.
“I’ve watched us not address our big issues — we argued about football teams for 20 years, while we didn’t pave the roads and people ended up in the street with our homelessness crisis,” said Moore.
His priorities include housing, affordability and infrastructure. He spoke with NBC 7 from an incomplete project at the end of Village Center Loop Road in Pacific Highlands Ranch.
“This here was a deal between some land owners, and a developer, and the city that didn’t get done, and didn’t get done, and didn’t get done… those things need to be dealt with and need somebody with experience and expertise, and I bring that to the table,” said Moore.
Aaron Brennan recently retired as a San Diego firefighter after 17 years running towards flames.
The Navy Reserve Officer has been endorsed by both San Diego’s police officers’ union and firefighters’ union, and is focusing on public safety in his campaign.
“The people that protect and serve [San Diego] on a daily basis and put their lives on the line say we want Brennan to make public safety choices at the city level,” Brennan told NBC 7.
The candidate also said homelessness would be a priority, citing firefighters’ frequent interactions with homeless people.
“It’s bordering on criminal that it took a hepatitis outbreak for us to wake up as a city and say ‘Gosh, we have a problem with people who are unsheltered,’” said Brennan.
Sam Nejabat owns a real estate business in San Diego where he was proudly born and raised.
Nejabat told NBC 7 if elected his priorities would include homelessness, the cost of living in California, and primarily short-term vacation rentals.
“With vacation rentals, I would ban them on day one. In neighborhood areas, vacation rentals just don’t work,” said Nejabat.
Nejabat argued his business acumen and work in the Obama Administration makes him the clear choice in this race.
“I have the experience of private business, knowing what it’s like to make payroll, and I have a public service background, and I can comfortably say that I’ve walked more precincts than all of my opponents combined,” said Nejabat.
James Rudolph is a business attorney, also born and raised in San Diego.
Rudolph sat down with NBC 7 at his father’s diner, Harry’s Coffee Shop in La Jolla, and described the issues he hears about most from voters.
“Affordable housing, I think it’s homelessness, jobs and infrastructure,” he said.
Rudolph argued his experience working at the U.S. State Department will give him unique perspective on how to tackle local issues in San Diego.
“We must build more housing, because it’s a crisis and it is simply a supply issue, we’re just not building the housing we need,” said Rudolph.
Harid “H.” Puentes
Harid “H.” Puentes has built his career as a manager and most recently as a tech executive.
His grassroots campaign has been built on a message of taking a data-driven approach to city hall.
“And as a city, we don’t have money and we’re not operating in an efficient way,” said Puentes.
Puentes said he hopes to make sure District one not only grows as a hub for good jobs in San Diego but also retains potential employees from universities like UC San Diego.
“If you’re ready to really step up, think innovatively think creatively about the challenges we face as a city and you want someone that’s gonna deliver, then to me there’s only one candidate, and that’s our campaign,” said Puentes.
Louis Rodolico and Lily Zhou
The two candidates NBC 7 did not sit down with are retired hospital architect Louis Rodolico and entrepreneur Lily Zhou.
Rodolico has been a “pro bono community activist for 35 years” who is focusing his candidacy on the environment.
Zhou is running as an independent and calls hers an “immigrant” success story.
Neither Rodolico nor Zhou have raised significant amounts of money and, according to the San Diego Union Tribune, the two “haven’t run traditional campaigns.”