May 1 2013 08:55 AM

And Lorena Gonzalez for state Assembly

Dwayne Crenhsaw (left), Lorena Gonzalez
Photos by David Rolland, Kelly Davis

Lets deal immediately with the unsightly elephant in the room: Dwayne Crenshaw, one of two candidates for the vacant City Council District 4 seat up for grabs in a May 21 special election, is backed by the Lincoln Club of San Diego County, a pro-business group often aligned with the Republican Party. Thats fine for you conservatives; for us, its cause for concern.

Crenshaws always been a liberal Democrat, but he finds himself facing Myrtle Cole, who won the endorsement of the local Democratic Party and the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, an umbrella organization representing local unions. We suspect that, for the Lincoln Club, its simply a lesser-of-two-evils calculation—oppose the labor candidate and hope for the best.

However, Crenshaw does favor opening up District 4—which covers San Diegos southeastern neighborhoods—to Walmart. He says he believes district residents are so starved for grocery stores that they welcome even the corporate behemoth with the predatory business practices and awful record of employee treatment. He insists that hed negotiate a community-benefits agreement with Walmart that mandates compensation and hiring concessions.

On the plus side, the Lincoln Club will surely oppose an increase in the so-called linkage fee, which developers pay to the city when their projects result in a greater need for affordable housing. The fee is long overdue for a hike, and Crenshaw promises to support an increase when it comes up for a vote. In CityBeats view, the linkage fee is a crucial indictor issue. Crenshaw says he cant legally control who spends money independently on behalf of his election, and he vows to be his own man and vote according to his progressive principles.

Were certain that his opponent, Cole, will vote consistently with local labor and Mayor Bob Filners values in mind. More often than not, that would be a good thing, but not always. The problem with Cole is thats she just not an impressive candidate. In our experience with her—a lengthy interview and a couple of candidate forums—shes been awkward and devoid of interesting ideas and she hasnt shown that she has a firm grasp of the issues facing the city.

For some progressive voters who fully support Filner, whos endorsed Cole, none of thats a problem, because Cole will be a reliable progressive vote on a City Council with a 5-4 Democratic majority. For us, however, it just doesnt feel right.

When it comes to demonstrated comprehension of the issues, Crenshaw is far superior to Cole. Call us crazy, but Crenshaws ability to clearly articulate complex matters and propose policy options should count for something. Coles inability to do so leaves us worried that shell merely be someones puppet. Her cryptic, unexplained jab at Crenshaw during a forum last week at Lincoln High School about his tenure in student government while in college—information she said she got from state Assemblymember Shirley Weber—didnt help her case with us.

So, our choice is an uninspiring, odd bird in hand (Cole) or a bird in the bush (Crenshaw) that has the potential to be much grander.

Were betting that Crenshaw will remain true to his progressivism. Were endorsing him and hoping he doesnt make us regret it. We urge District 4 voters to cast their ballots for Dwayne Crenshaw.

State Assembly, District 80

With apologies for the short shrift were giving the special election for the state Assembly, compared with City Council District 4, we enthusiastically urge voters in District 80 to choose Lorena Gonzalez. District 80 includes City Heights, Chollas View, Barrio Logan, Logan Heights, Sherman Heights, Mount Hope, Mountain View, National City, Chula Vista, San Ysidro and Otay Mesa.

Weve known Gonzalez well for more than a decade, starting when she worked for former Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and through her tenure as political director and then CEO for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council. Weve rarely disagreed with her on issues. We share her passion for strengthening the middle class and lifting folks on societys bottom rungs out of poverty. She has intelligence and wit and an abundance of heart.

Please vote for Lorena Gonzalez for state Assembly.

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