It took two ballot rounds for the San Diego City Council to select Point Loma resident Ed Harris, a longtime lifeguard and former Marine, to fill the District 2 seat vacated by now-mayor Kevin Faulconer over the next eight months.
“There were numerous highly qualified and inspiring candidates in the field, and I’m very humbled by the council’s decision,” said Harris after his April 7 appointment. “I look forward to working directly with community leaders to strengthen District 2 neighborhoods.”
The diverse field of candidates for the temporary District 2 post included a TV producer, a retired judge, a disabled-persons advocate, an attorney and an architect, among others.
Harris was immediately sworn in after being selected by the council. His candidacy drew the support of councilmembers Sherri Lightner, David Alvarez, Mark Kersey, Scott Sherman and Lorie Zapf, who will run to become the next full-term District 2 councilmember in the June primary.
In appointing Harris, who is head of the city’s lifeguard union, his council supporters said they were familiar — and comfortable — with his leadership style.
“I support Ed Harris,” said Alvarez. “He really has the ability to get things done and that’s what it’s going to take. He’s well prepared to take the job. Ed is the right choice today.”
“I am supporting Ed Harris because I have known and worked closely with him for the past six years and believe he is best suited to come in and hit the ground running as a councilman,” she said.
District 9 Councilwoman Marti Emerald was of like mind.
“Ed Harris is a hero, flat out, a U.S. Marine, a lifeguard who puts his life on the line every time the bell rings, and he’s been an incredible partner here at the city,” she said.
Other candidates receiving votes to fill the temporary District 2 seat were: Chris Cramer, CEO and co-founder of Karl Strauss Brewing Company; Gretchen Kinney Newsom of LeSar Development Consultants, which works with the chronic homeless; and Howard Wayne, a deputy attorney general and former three-term state assemblyman.
All 17 candidates had three minutes to address the council and present their qualifications.
Harris told the council that protecting the safety of the public and the environment topped his priority list.
“I know how to work with labor and managed the city’s most fiscally responsive department (lifeguards),” Harris said, adding he’s worked to set up and administer Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) set aside along San Diego’s coastline to protect fish species in no-take areas allowing them to repopulate.
Also a Point Loma soccer coach, Harris started a real-estate investment company in 2002 and has purchased and renovated Ocean Beach and Point Loma properties for nearly two decades. He said he understands “the business perspective and the need to improve small business in the city of San Diego.”
He said he’s a renewable energy proponent. His home is totally solar-powered.
“I believe renewable energy starts in your backyard,” he said.
A 25-year resident of District 2, Harris became a San Diego lifeguard in 1989 after serving in the Marine Corps. His most current post was as a lifeguard sergeant and a dive-team supervisor answering high-profile emergency calls.
Harris said he initiated a deal with Toyota for 34 new lifeguard vehicles that saved the city $1.1million. He is also a member of the Livable Streets Coalition, striving to make San Diego a more walkable and bike-friendly city. He also started the annual “Fill the Fin” campaign in 2011 to raise money for swim programs in San Diego’s poorest neighborhoods.
“As City Council representative, I will be the ‘voice for the coast’ at San Diego City Hall,” said Harris in his council application. Harris will be the District 2 representative until that district’s newly elected councilmember is seated on Dec. 8 or Dec. 10.