Stadium advocacy groups Save Our Bolts and the San Diego Stadium Coalition have made unified political endorsements that best support development of a new stadium and convention center expansion downtown. These endorsements include both opponents to mayor Kevin Faulconer.
“In this primary there are three elections of critical importance to Chargers fans and the future of a downtown San Diego stadium and Convention Center,” said Chairman of the San Diego Stadium Coalition Jason Riggs. “Based on their voting records, public comments, action and/or inactions with respect to the Chargers, the following are the most ardent anti-Chargers officials in this election.
- NO – Mayor Kevin Faulconer
- NO – Councilman Scott Sherman
- NO – Candidate Ray Ellis”
While Faulconer hasn’t taken a position opposing the Chargers initiative or plans for downtown, it is clear where he stands by the actions of those closest to him and by what stadium groups are hearing from those that are engaged with the mayor.
District 1 city council candidate Ray Ellis and accountant April Boling have been two of the most outspoken voices opposing the Chargers’ downtown vision. Both have deep connections tying them to Faulconer.
Boling served as the treasurer for multiple Faulconer campaigns. When Faulconer ran for mayor, Boling was not just the treasurer of the campaign, but also treasurer both super PACs that supported the campaign.
Ellis recently received a $100,000 donation from the political PAC “Neighborhoods, Not Stadiums.” The phone number for this PAC is owned by Boling.
Tony Manolatos, former spokesman for the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG), is the communication director for the Ellis campaign. Last week, Manolatos sent out a press release touting Ellis’ anti-stadium stance.
Faulconer’s allegiances clearly lie with the hoteliers. These same hoteliers are hosting a fundraiser for Faulconer this Thursday at Evans Garage, a venue owned by hotelier Bill Evans. It has become abundantly clear Faulconer’s stadium effort, which include CSAG, was designed to protect the interests of a select few hoteliers that favor a contiguous expansion of the Convention Center.
If Faulconer remains mayor, he will have many opportunities to block the Chargers plan from ever being realized. Hurdles to development would include failing to move the MTS bus yard or not acquiring Tailgate Park, for example.
In addition, sources at City Hall have been actively working to sabotage positive efforts to support a downtown stadium. On Friday, a contact at City Hall leaked a false story to NBC San Diego probably to create chaos among fan groups and delay the endorsements given today. The story indicated that the mayor and the Chargers struck a stadium deal in Mission Valley and was quickly shut down as reporters reached out to those in contact with the team. This serves as another example of purposeful deception targeted against the downtown effort.
The Chargers are currently circulating an initiative with hopes of getting it on the November ballot for the general election. The two pro-stadium organizations would ideally like to endorse candidates that have backed the Chargers plan, but no candidate for mayor has gone that far yet.
“No one has earned our vote,” said co-founder of Save Our Bolts David Agranoff. “Not one candidate has taken action or shown an understanding of what is needed to give San Diego the kind of effort needed in the years to come. Most importantly our fear is that a majority in the primary ends Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s need to campaign. We feel the issues facing the city whether it is downtown, 911 delayed response, the harassment of the homeless with inhumane policies need more discussion than a primary election allows. We are asking San Diegans to vote in the primary for Ed Harris or Lori Saldaña for the primary to ensure that we have more time to weigh the candidates. If in November you choose to change your vote we understand. The future of San Diego is too important to decide as early as June 7th.”
In addition to Harris and Saldaña, Save Our Bolts and the San Diego Stadium Coalition have endorsed councilman candidate Justin DeCesare. All three of these candidates have endorsed the Citizens’ Plan that provides a clear path for a stadium and Convention Center expansion downtown. All three of these candidates have indicated through their campaign management a willingness to implement the Chargers plan when it passes
Harris has promised to facilitate a downtown solution. “The days of Qualcomm are nearly over,” Harris said. “Now, we need to make a path for a downtown stadium, expanded Convention Center, and a public park along the San Diego river. As mayor, I will never stand on the sidelines when real leadership is required to tackle major issues.”
Saldaña echoes this solution-orientated message. “As a native San Diegan and a lifelong Charger fan, I am proud to have the support of my fellow Charger fans,” Saldaña said. “In the absence of leadership from the Mayor who called this his ‘number one issue in San Diego’ I am proud of my fellow San Diegans for taking up their cause and engaging in our political system to achieve what they believe is best for our City. As your Mayor, I will be committed to supporting your efforts and keeping the Chargers in San Diego.”
DeCesare is running against Scott Sherman in District 7. Sherman suggested the Chargers stadium plan is a con in a Voice of San Diego op-ed published on Monday. In a meeting with Riggs and myself, Sherman made it clear his stadium plan for Mission Valley is really a development plan. DeCesare opposes major development in Mission Valley. He favors the Chargers moving to downtown for the positive environmental impact that can be made with the Mission Valley land after the move.
“I’ve always thought that if a new stadium is to be built, downtown would be a far better location in order to protect the environmental concerns of the San Diego River and minimize the traffic impacts on the already overburdened residents of Mission Valley,” DeCesare said. “Once elected, one of my top priorities for the residents of District 7 will be protecting the Qualcomm site from condo development, and instead turning it into a major public park that can be enjoyed by all San Diegans while protecting SDSU’s football program.”
The June 7 primary election will have an impact on the future of the Chargers in San Diego. Its magnitude cannot be underestimated. “It is critically important that all Chargers fans vote. Fans must get their family and friends to vote as well,” Riggs said. “Abstaining in this election is actually casting a vote for the politicians who are trying to drive the Chargers out of San Diego.”
Full List of Save Our Bolts and San Diego Stadium Coalition endorsements for June 7th primary
Mayor: Ed Harris and Lori Saldaña
City Council, District 1: Barbara Bry
City Council District 7: Justin DeCesare
City Attorney: Bryan Pease