Mosh of Mayoral Candidates Keeps Gathering Numbers

Registrar of Voters could spend $6 million on special election

San Diego's mayoral race could be on track to producing the largest slate of candidates in the city's history.

The size of the potential special election field has more than doubled in a week's time– to 33 people who have filed state notice-of-intent forms with the City Clerk’s office.

Not everyone in this mosh of mayoral hopefuls is expected to actually qualify for the November 19 ballot.

20 was the historical high-water mark in 1983.

While real "name recognition" applies to only five, the other lesser-known candidates have some pointed messages for them.

"We're heading down the road of Chicago, Detroit and Stockton,” said Atty. Hud Collins, an early-bird among the mayoral hopefuls. “They're ready to go under, and we are also…and until the candidates-- especially the ones that will get the most exposure-- understand that and put forth a (financial) plan, we're no place."

Collins issued that challenge directly to the two councilmembers in the race– Republican Kevin Faulconer and Democrat David Alvarez– during a non-agenda public comment session at Tuesday morning’s council meeting.

The other three major contenders to whom Collins referred as in line for prominent exposure are former Assembly Members Nathan Fletcher and Lori Saldana and former City Attorney Mike Aguirre, all Democrats.

"Most of them are empty suits, unfortunately,” Collins said in an interview with NBC 7. "They don't have a clue. They might get elected. But I haven't seen any real ideas from any of the big candidates."

Not a charitable thing to say about people who have held elected office, compiled records to run on, and gotten some influential endorsements.

Should all that just be dismissed by a long-shot entry in a crowded field of mostly obscure wanna-be mayors?

Many San Diegans interviewed at random Tuesday found the idea of 33 candidates somewhat mind-boggling.

“At least shrink it down to 10 or 11 or something,” downtown resident Shirley Antunez said. “To study every single one of them and choose which one will be the right one? It's quite a hard choice."

Some seemed to welcome a high level of civic engagement.

"It would seem to make the most sense to have the maximum amount of discourse from which people then, hopefully, would educate themselves on the issues,” said Mission Hills resident Sean Schwerdtfeger. “And if democracy wins out, we'll get a good mayor."

Among longtime city hall observers, 'the chalk' in the race goes to money, media and name recognition.

Said political strategist Jon Elliott, phrasing the issue in the form of a rhetorical question: "Who's going to invite 33 people to a candidates' debate? I mean, we've had dinner parties that don't have that many many people have 33 friends that they could name? It's really a clown car when it gets to that stage."

"The more, the merrier" also may not be so taxpayer-friendly, in terms of the printing and material costs for the election packets.

The Registrar of Voter’s high-end, "bottom-line" financial projection for what the city could spend on the November 19 election: $6 million.

History shows that many potential candidates who "pull’ and file papers" don't wind up meeting the requirements to qualify for the ballot.

But at this point, 10 days away from the filing deadline, the 30-year-old record of 20 mayoral candidates is looking shaky.

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