Decision 2020

San Diego City Council District 5 Candidates Talk Big Issues

Kersey, and Independent, was chosen for the seat despite Republicans’ historical domination in the district

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Two Democrats and two Republicans are going toe-to-toe for the District 5 City Council seat set to open up when Councilman Mark Kersey terms out of office at the end of this year.

Each candidate has a deep, rooted commitment to the district and they all share the desire to change it for the better, but how they wish to accomplish their objectives might be the thing that determines the winner.

So, let’s meet them.

Joe Leventhal (R)

Republican candidate Joe Leventhal is one of two attorneys in the race. He owns and operates a private law firm with satellite offices throughout the country.

Leventhal is a father of three and his family has lived in District 5 for 15 years. It’s a surprise to no one that one of his top priorities is homelessness.

"When I talk to people about how much money the city spends on homelessness, which is over $100 million a year, people realize we are spending a lot of money and not seeing the results for that money,” Leventhal said.

Leventhal’s approach to resolving the complex issue revolves around focusing on individual needs rather than lumping everyone into the dame group.

“We need to be putting people on different tracks, not the ‘one size fits all’ approach, and really addressing the underlying reasons why people are homeless which is mental health and addiction issues,” Leventhal said.

Simon Moghadan (R)

The other republican in the race is popular restaurateur Simon Moghadan. For 20 years Moghadan has owned and operated the Greek Corner Cafe in Carmel Mountain Ranch.

This is Moghadan's second run for local office. He ran for mayor last election and lost.

Moghadan said he is focused on a better quality of life for San Diegans.    

"The quality of the environment the neighbors have been living in, it seems to be declining,” Moghadan told NBC 7.

One reason for that, Moghadan claims, is the increase in the number of homeless people, particularly in District 5. His solution for the problem doesn’t require many new tricks, just a deeper commitment to following the blueprint already in place.

“If you enforce the laws that are already on the books, it will take care of the homeless problem,” Moghadan said.

Marni Von Wilpert (D)

Democratic candidate Marni Von Wilpert is a Deputy City Attorney who works closely with City Council on issues of financial planning. She grew up in Scripps Ranch and graduated from Scripps Ranch High School.

Safety issues are first on her agenda.

"Neighborhoods that are safe and sound for everyone to live in. That means not only fixing the potholes in our roads that are dangerous to drive over, but reducing traffic so our first responders get to where they need to be on time,” Von Wilpert said.

The key to improved public safety, Von Wilpert says, is keeping human resources local.

"Recruitment and retention of our basic public safety personnel. Making sure we keep our firefighters and police officers and recruit them to stay in our city," she said.

Isaac Wang (D)

U.S. Navy reserve officer Isaac Wang is a city builder and tech entrepreneur who sees San Diego’s problems through its design.

"You can conspicuously see the sidewalks are empty, the kids don't walk to school and that we don't feel safe biking. We've designed our streets around the automobile rather than the human being,” Wang said.

A solution is not so much a remodel, but rethinking San Diego's future needs, Wang said.

“It’s cheaper than you think. There is a lot you can do with the right of way and a lot of it is just paint and political will."

The top-two finishers in the primary advance to a November runoff.

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