By Nicole Murray Ramirez
As I predicted some years ago, this month has begun with three official announcements from three LGBT and civic leaders for public offices. Assembly member Todd Gloria is running for Mayor, San Diego Councilmember Chris Ward is campaigning for State Assembly and Stephen Whitburn for City Council.
Gloria’s announcement is getting the most attention as his election would be a historic one — he would be the first person of color and LGBT citizen to become mayor of San Diego. Gloria is probably one of the most experienced and qualified candidates to ever run for mayor as he is a past city councilmember, past City Council president, a past city commissioner, past intern mayor (after former mayor Bob Filner resigned) and currently the majority whip of the California State Assembly. Recent polls have Gloria as a front runner with the most name recognition and likeable high numbers. Among talked about candidates who are also possible mayoral candidates are: Councilmember Barbara Bry (who has already announced her campaign), and former San Diego chief of police Shelly Zimmerman.
Current District 3 City Councilmember Ward announced his candidacy for Gloria’s State Assembly seat and the popular hard-working Ward is expected to have only token opposition if any.
This week, it is Ward’s council seat that has turned into a most interesting and competitive race. Stephen Whitburn — who currently works with the American Cancer Society, and before that the Red Cross — announced he is a candidate for the City Council District 3 this past week. His list of supporters includes more than 100 city leaders, activists and citizens is very impressive. It includes movers and shakers like State Assembly member Lorena Gonzales, former city councilmembers John Hartley and Donna Fry, Benny Cartwright, Bob Lehman, Bruce Abrams, Ebony Mullins, Gil Cabrera, Tiffany Gonzalez, Elaine Graybill, Johnathan Hale, Bill Kelly, Rev. Dan Koeshall, Stan Lewis, Big Mike Phillips, Joe Letzkus, Ann Garwood, Sherman Mendoza, Eddie Reynoso, Joe Smith and many others.
Last year Will Rodriguez and Nick Serrano met with me and were seriously thinking about running for City Council. However, Rodriguez is now running for Chair of the San Diego Democratic Party and Serrano is one of Gloria’s top campaign managers.
But now, just as we are going to press for this issue of Gay San Diego, I received a late-night call from Toni Duran, and she has decided to become a candidate for the City Council. Duran was recently voted “Woman of the Year” at the 43rd Annual Nicky Awards and is an aide to State Senate President Toni Atkins. Duran, if elected, would be the third lesbian on the current City Council — joining Council President Georgette Gomez and Councilmember Jen Campbell — as well as the third Latina to serve on City Council. Many LGBT community leaders were hoping that we could avoid two LGBT candidates running against each other, but it looks like that is exactly what will be happening.
The election will be in November of 2020. And with San Diego Unified School District board member Kevin Beiser talking also running for City Council but in District 7, there could be a lavender sweep of City Hall in 2020!
Big Mike’s birthday party fundraiser this Saturday
Many in our community including Mayor Kevin Faulconer are turning out for the one and only Big Mike’s Birthday Party at Rich’s this Saturday, Jan. 19 from 5-8 p.m. It’s a fundraiser for Omar’s Closet at the Florence Elementary School and the Matthew Shepard Foundation. You are all invited!
Thank you my fabulous readers
Once again this column received a “Excellence in Journalism Award” from the prestigious San Diego Press Club. (Our popular editor Albert Fulcher was also honored.) And this column was one of the most read gay columns online! I have been writing a column since 1973 (formerly with San Diego Sun) and truly appreciate and value your readership. And hey, I am now on Twitter: NMRSD2!
—Nicole Murray Ramirez has been writing a column since 1973. He has been a Latino/gay activist for almost half a century and has advised and served the last seven mayors of San Diego. Named the “Honorary Mayor of Hillcrest” by a city proclamation, he has received many media awards including from the prestigious San Diego Press Club. Reach Nicole at Hillcrestqueen5@gmail.com.
Editor’s Note: The opinions written in this column are the author’s own and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the staff and/or publisher of Gay San Diego and/or its parent company, San Diego Community News Network (SDCNN). The newspaper and its staff should be held harmless of liability or damages.