Challengers in two of San Diego's highest-profile races for the November general election received major endorsements Thursday.
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders endorsed Ray Ellis in his bid to unseat Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, while the executive director of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association threw support behind port Commissioner Scott Peters, who is trying to defeat incumbent Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach.
Also Thursday, city lifeguards gave their backing to Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, in his mayoral campaign against Councilman Carl DeMaio.
Ellis, a businessman and former board member of the San Diego City Employees Retirement System, is challenging Lightner in District 1, in the northwestern part of the city.
"I've known Ray Ellis for 20 years and I think what impresses me most about Ray is his ability to focus like a laser on both neighborhood issues as well as those that are more regional in nature," Sanders said at a news conference. "Ray is as much about potholes and neighborhood parks as he is about the Plaza de Panama project and the Convention Center expansion."
If Ellis wins in the November general election, Republicans will have a majority on the ostensibly nonpartisan City Council for the first time in years.
Ellis outpolled Lightner 45 percent to 41 percent in the June primary, falling short of the majority needed for an outright victory.
Lightner told City News Service that she has worked with Sanders for years on fiscal reform, but she has not been a rubber stamp.
"For example, I strongly opposed the mayor's proposal to construct a new $300 million city hall and his proposal to cut neighborhood library hours in half," Lightner said. "I ran to serve the neighborhoods in my district, not downtown interests, and that is what I will continue to do."
In the congressional race, SDCTA head Lani Lutar said Peters helped guide San Diego through a difficult decade and set the city on course toward fiscal reform when he served on the City Council.
""As a taxpayer advocate who has scrutinized numerous public investments and been involved in pension reform throughout the region, I know Scott played a pivotal role in righting the ship and creating jobs," Lutar said. "He's been an honest public servant, an effective leader, and he'll be a terrific advocate for our region in Washington."
She supports him as an individual, since the SDCTA does not endorse candidates.
At a news conference on bluffs overlooking the beach, city lifeguards union spokesman Ed Harris said Filner, D-San Diego, is the mayoral candidate who supports safe and clean beaches.
"He will provide facilities, equipment and staffing to keep San Diego beaches safe," Harris said.
The congressman's opponent, Councilman Carl DeMaio, spent several days this summer detailing his own plans for the coastal environment and economy. He released figures showing that Filner missed nearly 60 percent of the roll call votes in the House this year, but Filner responded that he cast ballots nearly 97 percent of the time through his first nine terms.
-City News Service