Election 2020: Q&A with San Diego mayoral candidates Barbara Bry and Todd Gloria

City Councilwoman Barbara Bry and state Assemblyman Todd Gloria are running for mayor of San Diego.
(File photos)

Barbara Bry and Todd Gloria, who are facing off in the race to become the new mayor of San Diego, have their eyes on a big task as they seek to replace current Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who is termed out and cannot run for re-election.

Whoever wins the Nov. 3 election will oversee San Diego’s approximately 110 neighborhoods and more than 1.4 million residents over 372 square miles. San Diego is the nation’s eighth-largest city and the second-largest in California. San Diego residents speak more than 100 languages and have come from all over the world to live here.

Bry is a City Council member representing District 1 and Gloria represents the 78th Assembly District.

Both candidates are Democrats, though the mayor’s office is officially nonpartisan.

PB Monthly asked the candidates a series of questions to get a better idea of who they are, why they’re running and what issues they feel are most pressing. Below are their responses; some have been edited for formatting, brevity or clarity. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Barbara Bry

Age: 71

Professional occupation: Businesswoman; San Diego City Council member representing District 1

Education: Bachelor’s degree from University of Pennsylvania and master’s degree from Harvard Business School

Time lived in San Diego: Almost 40 years

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: La Jolla, 20 years

Current and past public service, activism and volunteerism:

Currently is president pro tem of the City Council and serves as chairwoman of the council’s Budget and Government Efficiency Committee and vice chairwoman of the Rules Committee and the Committee on Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods.

Before being elected to office in 2016, was a high-tech entrepreneur and community leader and was on the founding team of several local high-tech companies that have created hundreds of local jobs.

Taught entrepreneurship at UC San Diego and founded Athena San Diego, an organization that supports the advancement of women in the technology and life science sectors. Spotlighted the small-business community as a business journalist and was honored as Small Business Journalist of the Year for San Diego and Imperial Counties by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Founded Run Women Run, a nonpartisan organization that inspires, recruits and trains women to seek elected and appointed office. Created the Workplace Equity Initiative at City Hall to ensure equal pay across gender and race.

Served as board president of the Children’s Museum of San Diego, vice chairwoman of the San Diego Jewish Community Foundation and on the board of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest.

Immediate family members: Husband, Neil Senturia. Blended family with three grandchildren and four more on the way.

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and how do you intend to address each one if elected?

• City government transparency and accountability

• Economic recovery from COVID-19. The city needs a clear plan to move forward and that is why she wrote “A Roadmap to Recovery for San Diego,” Bry said. It can be found at

• Protecting our neighborhoods. To do this, Bry said she will make sure that community plans continue to be updated with residents’ input and approval and will prevent incompatible development, enforce the existing municipal code against short-term rentals, promote housing supply and affordability and appropriate densification near transportation corridors, and prevent further destruction of existing affordable units.

What do you believe is the primary issue facing Pacific Beach specifically, and how do you intend to address it if elected?

A major issue is crime, which is related to the bars on Garnet Avenue, Bry said. As mayor, she said, she would work with residents, law enforcement and business owners to develop appropriate alcohol policies and land-use reforms.

Candidates for San Diego mayor Barbara Bry and Todd Gloria stand onstage during a candidates forum in August 2019.
Candidates for San Diego mayor Barbara Bry and Todd Gloria stand onstage during a candidates forum presented by the San Diego Democratic Party in August 2019.

Todd Gloria

Age: 42

Professional occupation: California Assembly member representing 78th District

Education: Bachelor’s degree in history and political science from University of San Diego

Time lived in San Diego: All my life

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: Mission Hills, about six years

Current and past public service, activism and volunteerism:

“As a 14-year-old, I rode the city bus to the Democratic Party headquarters, where I volunteered for candidates like Chris Kehoe. In college I fought to add sexual orientation to USD’s nondiscrimination policy. I have served in several leadership positions in the LGBTQ community, including a term as chairman of the San Diego LGBT Community Center.

“I have spent my entire professional life in service to the public, beginning at San Diego County’s Health & Human Services Agency. I also served as the district director to Congresswoman Susan Davis. In a volunteer capacity, I served as a San Diego housing commissioner and a member of the Mid-City Prostitution Impact Panel.

“I was elected to the San Diego City Council in 2008, [serving] two terms [and] a stint as interim mayor.

“I authored San Diego’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for annual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions throughout San Diego by 2035.

“In 2016, I was elected to the California Assembly to represent the 78th District. I was re-elected for another two-year term in 2018. I’ve had the honor of serving as assistant majority whip and now majority whip. In the Assembly I have passed legislation on many of the major issues San Diego is working to address, including building more affordable housing, fighting gun violence, combating climate change and providing resources for the homeless.”

Immediate family members: Partner, Adam, and adopted rescue dog, Diego

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and how do you intend to address each one if elected?

• Protecting the health and well-being of residents while making strides to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our first priority must be to do everything we can get through the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild our economy. We will let data and science guide our decision-making and the reopening of our economy. I recently released a comprehensive recovery plan entitled ‘Back to Work SD’ [], which was informed by a broad coalition of elected officials, small-business owners, industry experts and community members. The plan outlines how we will focus on enabling our children to safely go back to school or child care facilities, protect our most vulnerable residents by providing permanent supportive housing or other options for the homeless, providing assistance to residents struggling to stay in their homes, and ultimately getting San Diegans back to work.”

• Homelessness/housing affordability: “Within my first 100 days in office as mayor, I will move homeless services into the office of the mayor to communicate to the public, city staff and service providers that this is a city priority. I intend to inject radical transparency to ensure taxpayer resources being spent on this problem are successfully getting people off the streets and keeping them housed for the long term. Those who are not delivering the results we should expect will be defunded and we will redirect those funds to programs that are working. We must also implement an aggressive housing-first strategy that combines housing with onsite supportive services like mental health treatment, addiction counseling and more. Lastly, we must get the county to invest more fully in mental health services.

“Reducing the cost of housing must be a civic priority. As mayor, I will set a robust housing production goal that prioritizes appropriate new housing construction in the right locations. I believe we can help solve our housing crisis by encouraging construction of accessory dwelling units, duplexes, garden apartments and row homes without compromising community character. When combined with investment in transit and multimodal infrastructure, appropriate development will not only reduce the crushing burden of sky-high housing costs but also improve our neighborhoods and help us meet our climate action goals.”

• Fix our crumbling city infrastructure. “As a state Assembly member, I have voted to send millions of dollars in state funds to the city of San Diego to repair our roads. Sadly, we have still not seen a marked improvement in the conditions of our roads. As mayor, I will make sure we spend your tax dollars wisely and that we are prioritizing significant road repair in every council district. My administration will also seek to improve our neighborhoods by enhancing walkability. We will invest in sidewalks, streetlights, parklets and other innovative improvements that add to the quality of life in a community. This is good for local businesses, reduces public safety risks and improves public health by promoting walking.”

What do you believe is the primary issue facing Pacific Beach specifically, and how do you intend to address it if elected?

“I know many in Pacific Beach have long been concerned about unregulated short-term vacation rentals, which can have serious quality-of-life impacts as well as divert homes from the housing market. I have long supported reasonable regulations of short-term vacation rentals. It will be a shame if [the current] mayor and City Council do not act on this issue, but if they don’t, I will take up this issue within my first 100 days in office. We will craft an ordinance with the community that respects private property rights and ensures that we take action against bad actors.”