Interim District 2 Councilman Ed Harris, who has taken time out from being a lifeguard to fill out the remainder of Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s City Council term for the next eight months or so, introduced himself prior to the Zapf-Boot question-and-answer forum. Harris said he’s “getting up to speed on a lot of issues,” joking that the experience was like “drinking from a fire hose.
“I’m a regular person, just like you guys,” Harris told the packed house at the Pacific Beach Woman’s Club, the venue for the debate.
“I appreciate your activism,” Harris told the audience, warning visitors to be politically vigilant.
Otherwise, he said, they run the risk of “having their quality of life adversely affected.” Harris said a case in point is an effort to in-crease the 30-foot-height building limit in some parts of the city.
In her opening remarks, Boot — a Midway District resident, federal prosecutor and private consultant for companies like Google and Yelp — said she was running for the District 2 City Council seat in the June 3 primary because “I’m very passionate about Pacific Beach. I care so much about PB that I’m running because the neighborhood has been neglected by the city for so long.”
Pointing to the recent failed attempt at planning Balboa Park’s 2015 centennial celebration, Boot said, “We need more transparent leadership and accountability.”
Zapf, a Bay Ho resident who has represented City Council District 6 (Claremont, Linda Vista and Kearny Mesa) since 2010, said she is proud of being “the first Latina elected to the City Council.” She said she had a tumultuous upbringing and was put into foster homes, which “molded me into the person I am today.
“High-quality neighborhoods and services are what I want to bring to the community,” Zapf said. She added city government has made great strides in areas like managed competition and pension reform during her 3½ years on the City Council, efforts she said “are paying dividends in the form of restored services.”
The debate turned testy when Boot questioned Zapf on her previous stance opposing gay marriage and Zapf’s and other council members’ alleged use of office “perks.”
“In the past, Lorie has said homosexuality is a sin,” said Boot. “Equality is very important to me. I absolutely support the ability of gay people to marry and find love and raise families. Zapf is also the only council person who’s taken an $800-a-month car allowance. This has to stop.”
Zapf replied she now supports marriage equality.
“My personal relationships over the past 3½ years have really shown me that gay people should have marriage equality,” she said.
Zapf also said Boot’s remarks on her office “perks” were taken out of context.
“I am the only sitting council member who has opted out of the city-defined pension system,” she said. “This saves taxpayers money that can be reinvested into our city.”
Boot chided Zapf and the rest of the City Council for being remiss in addressing infrastructure issues.
“I’m out on the streets talking to voters, and infrastructure problems have not been solved. People are really angry because the streets are torn up and there’s no coordination,” Boot said. “The city needs to look more closely at their departments to find efficiencies.”
Zapf defended the city’s policy of pursuing managed competition, which considers both independent contractors and city departments to provide the most cost-efficient services.
“Managed competition is proven to work,” Zapf said.