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Lifeguard gets seat on City Council

Point Loma lifeguard Ed Harris was chosen Monday to fill the District 2 seat on the San Diego City Council, which has been vacant since Kevin Faulconer was elected mayor in February.

Although the appointment will last only eight months, it will likely give Council President Todd Gloria a 6-3 veto-proof majority on some key issues he plans to bring before the City Council, including proposals to raise the city's minimum wage and guarantee that workers can earn paid time off for sick leave.

In the run-up to the vote, Harris -- like most of the other 17 candidates for the seat -- told the council he supports the general concept behind the two measures, which have yet to be fleshed out.

"I do support a minimum wage somewhere above the state's minimum wage," Harris said.

That is a contrast to Faulconer, who has said he would prefer that the minimum wage be raised by the federal or state government rather than locally.

Harris, a former Marine, has been a lifeguard on San Diego beaches since 1989. He is a lifeguard sergeant and spokesman as well as a dive team supervisor.

In his pitch to the City Council, he stressed his experience with labor negotiations and budgeting.

"San Diego Lifeguards have been called the city's most fiscally responsible department," he said. "I have been at the forefront of those efforts, initiating a deal with Toyota for 34 new lifeguard vehicles that saved the city $1.1 million."

Harris is also a member of the Livable Streets Coalition, which advocates more pedestrian walkways and bike lanes in San Diego, and the Marine Protection Area Committee in La Jolla. He founded the annual Fill the Fin campaign in 2011 to raise money for swim programs in San Diego's poorest neighborhoods.

After an afternoon session devoted to hearing the pitches of all 17 candidates, Councilmembers Sherri Lightner, David Alvarez and Lori Zapf voted for Harris, saying his experiences with the City Council — including previous appearances when he has representing the lifeguards' concerns — would help him hit the ground running.

Councilmembers Mark Kersey and Scott Sherman initially supported Karl Strauss Brewery founder Chris Cramer, saying that his experience as a businessman could help broaden the council's perspective, but both shifted their votes to Harris on the second round, giving him the five-vote majority he needed for his seat.

Councilmember Marti Emerald voted for former state Assemblymember Howard Wayne during both rounds, praising him as a "great champion for consumers," while Council President Todd Gloria and Councilmember Myrtle Cole supported Gretchen Kinney-Newsom, president of the Ocean Beach Town Council.

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City of San Diego Executive(s):

Sherri Lightner

  • Council President Pro Tem

Kevin Faulconer

  • Mayor

Todd Gloria

  • Council President

Myrtle Cole

  • City Council Member

Mark Kersey

  • City Council Member

Lorie Zapf

  • City Council Member

Scott Sherman

  • City Council Member

David Alvarez

  • City Council Member

Marti Emerald

  • City Council Member

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