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Scott Peters, fresh off picking up an endorsement from the 60,000-strong Laborers’ International Union of North America’s California chapter, appeared last night before the Ocean Beach Planning Board to give board members and the community updates on the Convention Center expansion, North Embarcadero Visionary Project, and to stump for his campaign in the 52nd Congressional District.

Before Peters spoke, his opponent Lori Saldaña weighed in during the non-agenda comment session that opened the meeting. Holding a lawn sign for her campaign, she spoke briefly, noting that she would return with an allotted time slot next month.

“I really wanted to talk tonight, just to give you a heads-up that I’m leading in all the polls and I’ve been endorsed by all the Democratic clubs in the district,” Saldaña told attendees. “We just came out of a very successful quarter, I’ve done a very good job on the fundraising side, I’ve been endorsed by national organizations, and things are going very, very well in my campaign for Congress.”

Saldaña fell one vote short of the 60% needed during February’s California Democratic Convention in order to secure official party endorsement, leaving the door open for Peters to continue to campaign on the Democratic ticket without official party support for either candidate.

After addressing other Planning Board business, Peters took the floor and spent the first four minutes of his half-hour time slot speaking about Port business. He used this time to voice his lack of support for the idea that would place a football stadium on land that currently houses a marine terminal. Peters noted that the port has a $1.9 billion annual economic impact on the community, including an exclusive West Coast contract with the Dole company for banana imports and a facility in National City through which approximately 1 in 8 vehicles imported to the U.S. passes.

Peters closed his comments on the stadium issue with a shot at real estate magnate/San Diego U-T owner Doug Manchester. “Since Mr. Manchester bought the newspaper, he’s got some pretty random ideas about developing the waterfront that are kind of inconsistent with our economic well-being.”

Segueing further into campaign mode, Peters first pointed to his service time on the city council, and cited his working with Republican councilmember Kevin Faulconer to enact a permanent alcohol ban at all city beaches as an example of leadership and ability to work in a bipartisan fashion. Peters, however, may not have chosen the best point to start on – beach area residents roundly rejected 2008’s Prop D, which was enacted largely through support from inland voters. OB residents were some of those most fiercely opposed, voting against the ban by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

Peters continued by playing up his middle class roots, which he would contrast to his current stature as a “lawyer from La Jolla” for the rest of his talk.

“America gave a middle class kid like me a chance to get a college education and go on to make my career,” Peters said. “We know that every day that opportunity is being lost to the middle class, and we’re not making those investments that we need to make in our future.

The Peters platform, the candidate says, comes down to three main ideas: investment in infrastructure, education, and scientific research. He notes that China is spending 9% of gross domestic product on infrastructure investment, Europe spends 5%, and the U.S. spends about 2.5%. “And Congress right now, the Republican Congress, is trying to cut that.”

Midway through his presentation, Peters revisits the Convention Center expansion, stating that “about 7,000 permanent jobs” will be created once the project is complete. An independent report issued in January, however, casts doubt on both the number and quality of the jobs potentially created.

Peters countered the endorsements claimed by Saldaña with those of his own. In addition the aforementioned labor endorsement, Peters has backing from the California Teachers Association, Young Democrats, and San Diego Democrats for Equality, a LGBT group, as well as “just about every Democratic elected official who knows both me and Lori.”

During a closing question and answer session, Peters struggled with several questions concerning how he would be able to implement his bipartisan “reach across the aisle” strategies in an increasingly partisan legislature. He redirected the focus onto Republican opponent Brian Bilbray, referring to the incumbent as a “blamer,” who refuses to take any substantial action of his own. “He used to be kind of a moderate, but he’s become a ‘blamer.’ If you ask him why something’s not happening, he’ll tell you ‘Nancy Pelosi.’”

Peters was further questioned Andy Cohen of the local progressive news site OB Rag, as Cohen attempted to tease out more details on Peters’ plan to “work with people who clearly don’t want to work with you,” emphasizing that President Obama had made similar pledges and met resistance from both an uncooperative Right and from a Left dissatisfied with the president’s lace of aggressiveness.

“There’s a lot of work to do. I just think we can do better than Brian Bilbray,” was Peters’ eventual conclusion, after touching on off-topic items including legislation to override the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United,” ruling.

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asimons April 5, 2012 @ 10:35 a.m.

I wasn't present, but reading this account it is clear that Peters is not that much better than Bilbray. His 3 main platform issues do little to help or address the issues of the middle class that he claims he wants to help. The real issues of the middle class and which need to be addressed are: jobs, healthcare, and foreclosures – just to name a few if he wants to choose the top 3. There is no substance to his platform. He also has not addressed the fact that he refuses to present his tax forms which would expose him as a member of the 1%. His one claim to why he should be elected is due to his ability to “reach across the aisle.” With the Republican Congress we currently have there is little room for compromise and we would be better served by a Democrat who sticks to the California Democratic principles adopted by the party and who fights for all of us (not the monied interests) while in Congress. Luckily, the right choice for voters in District 52 is Lori Saldaña who will fight for the middle class on real issues like healthcare, jobs, foreclosures, education, medical marijuana, the environment and more.


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