The special election to replace Mayor Filner is set for November 19th and the campaigns are revving up. The question on the minds of many media observers is “What kind of person do the voters want representing us in the post-Filner era?”
I think that’s a good question, so I randomly selected 481 likely special election voters and asked them, “in a word or two, what would you most like to see in a new Mayor?” Consider your own answer before I reveal what the San Diegans who will decide this election are thinking.
In the past, this sort of question would get many responses tied to local issues. Responses like, “someone for a strong economy,” “a person who cares about the environment,” or “a crime fighter” can come up. We’ll also usually find a lot of voters who want to make a more general statement as in “I want someone who’s for the neighborhoods” or “I’m looking for a strong leader.” Then there are others who are more specific and express a desire for a particular candidate.
But these are different times. You’ll notice that the candidates and issues are rarely mentioned.
San Diego is emerging from one of the most traumatic scandals it has endured. The upcoming Mayor’s race is part of the process of repair. Voters are looking at the race through a prism inspired by Filner’s dirty deeds which is why they overwhelmingly emphasize character traits… and it’s not even close.
Not only do these words and phrases related to moral fiber saturate the electorate’s consciousness, they do so regardless of political party. Democrats, independents and Republicans tend to be cast as groups that cannot agree with each other, but Filner has united them in this way: San Diegans are focused on character.