Decision 2020

Incumbent Mara Elliott, Private-Sector Attorney Cory Briggs Battle for City Attorney


Elections are less than a month away, with constituents deciding who San Diego’s next City Attorney will be. Incumbent Mara Elliott is hoping to secure another four-year term. Her opponent is Cory Briggs, a private-sector attorney for nearly 20 years, will focus on transparency in the City Attorney's role.

Both candidates have about two decades of legal counsel under their belts, but they argue that their qualifications couldn’t be more different.

“I have dedicated my career to protecting the public,” Elliott said.

It’s Briggs' first time entering the political arena.

“I think it’s an advantage to be an outsider who understands what the rules are,” Briggs said.

Elliot said she prides herself on her efforts to combat gun violence and domestic violence, and protect vulnerable communities.

“The next four years is a lot of continuing to crack down on those issues,” Elliott said.

Briggs said he plans on getting rid of politics in the City Attorney’s Office, increasing transparency and restoring the public’s confidence.

“Right now, everything is a secret unless the city is forced by a judge -- or for some other reason -- to be transparent," Briggs said. "I’m going to make everything transparent unless the law prohibits me from doing so.”

The City Attorney role entails serving as the city’s prosecutor and legal advisor, and the person on the role tackles hot-button issues like police reform and coronavirus restrictions.

“We are looking at use-of-force policies, we’re looking to make sure there is no bias in prosecutions,” Elliott said.

“The [members of law enforcement] who are doing a good job, we need to support them," Briggs said. "The ones who are doing a bad job, we need them off the city’s payroll.”

The opponents have been making their cases as to why each feel they're the better candidate. Elliott points at Briggs' history of litigation against the the city of San Diego.

“I have sued the city many times because the city many times has screwed over the public,” Briggs said.

Meanwhile, Briggs said Elliot is collecting a pension that voters eliminated in 2012 through Proposition B, which keeps newly elected leaders from collecting pensions.

“The big issue for me is going to be her illegal pension,” Briggs said.

Elliot was part of the pension system before the measure took effect, but some critics call it a loophole.

“He is going after a salary and retirement benefit that I worked very hard to earn,” Elliott said.

The two have also challenged each other in court. Elliot sued Briggs for identifying himself as a taxpayers' advocate. Briggs sued Elliot for claiming an endorsement from the San Diego Union-Tribune after it expired. Briggs won both cases.

The next City Attorney will also be tasked with resolving the 101 Ash Street deal, which could take years of litigation.

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