San Diego’s two newest city councilmembers have been sworn in and are already enmeshed in possible ways to cut the City budget by slashing services and selling off City land. At the same time, the councilmembers are hiring a small army of new staff, many veterans of campaigns past and some the recipients of handsome salaries, according to numbers released by the city attorney’s office after a Public Records Act request.
Travis Knowles, chief of staff to Eighth District Democrat David Alvarez, is making $98,800. His boss gets just $75,386. Knowles was Alvarez’s campaign manager and previously served as a council representative and cannabis policy advisor to Democratic councilman Todd Gloria.
Alvarez has also hired five council representatives. Anna Schmidt and Kevin Smith each make $72,114. Rodolfo Lopez Jr. and Vivian Moreno each are being paid $49,442, and Melina Meza is getting $30,909. Intern Jeremy Addis-Mills is paid an hourly rate of $14.04.
Meanwhile, Sixth District GOPer Lorie Zapf has so far hired only three staffers, according to the document. The highest salary, $108,014, was paid to chief of staff Job Nelson, a former employee of political consultant Tom Shepard and, most recently, director of intergovernmental relations for Mayor Jerry Sanders. Zapf’s payroll also includes council representative Cheryl Hoy at $50,001 and council representative Matthew Donnellan, onetime executive director at California College Republicans and Zapf’s campaign manager, at $40,000.