Mayoral candidates Bob Filner and Carl DeMaio squared off in a debate at Politifest 2012 on Saturday.
Politifest, hosted by Voice of San Diego, is an annual festival that focuses on civic issues and San Diego’s future. Moderated by VOSD’s CEO Scott Lewis, the mayoral debate proved to be the main event of the festival.
DeMaio and Filner took turns bantering about who would be a stronger fit for the mayor position.
In the first round, Filner accused DeMaio and his supporters of “buying” the election, saying DeMaio is in the grip of special interests.
DeMaio, currently a Republican San Diego councilman, says his interest isn’t to make decisions along party lines, but to have a prosperous economy.
“There is no Democratic or Republican way to fill a pothole or respond to a 911 call,” DeMaio said to the crowd.
Prominent local Republicans and Democrats support DeMaio. U-T San Diego owner and conservative “Papa” Doug Manchester and Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, a Democrat who has previously donated to VOSD, endorse DeMaio.
Filner,aDemocraticcongressman, reminded the audience of the influence DeMaio’s two prominent supporters wield.
“They’re going to, in fact, buy this election, buy the City Council and buy the city and run it the way they want to do it,” Filner said. “When Bob Filner gets elected, it’s gonna be neighborhoods, not special interests.”
Filner candidly retorted to many of DeMaio’s proposals, noting DeMaio’s avoidance of spelling out specifics for his plans. DeMaio’s responses focused on attempting to garner bipartisan appeal, despite the numerous “boos” he received from some audience members.
Overall, Filner visibly drew more support from San Diegans who attended Politifest. The signs held by attendees supporting Filner outnumbered DeMaio by about 3-to-1. Filner’s supporters were also noticeably louder than DeMaio’s polite clappers, especially when Filner mentioned his love for the San Diego Chargers.
When the hour-long debate was coming to a close, Lewis asked the mayoral candidates which presidential candidate would be the best fit for office.
DeMaio responded with “the president that gets jobs back in San Diego, plain and simple,” choosing not to publicly endorse a specific candidate.
Filner responded with unbridled support for President Barack Obama and a wisecrack toward DeMaio.
“Well I heard (DeMaio’s) endorsing President Obama, because (that’s) the one who’s gonna create jobs the best,” Filner said.
Although both candidates had much to say about the state of San Diego’s civic affairs, the clear winners of the debate were the airplanes that flew overhead every few minutes. The planes flying into San Diego’s airport were loud, causing frequent pauses in the debate and silence from the audience and the candidates as they patiently waited for the planes to pass by.