San Diego’s largest Realtors association has thrown its support behind Councilman Carl DeMaio’s mayoral campaign.
The San Diego Association of Realtors endorsed DeMaio recently, after it had withheld its endorsement throughout the mayoral primary.
SDAR President Donna Sanfilippo said the organization waited until after the primary because there were a number of candidates the group felt were qualified for the job.
“We also hosted, very close to the primary, the last mayoral debate and we felt that hosting that debate, in all fairness, we needed to be able to take a step back and not have made an endorsement at that point,” Sanfilippo said.
At the SDAR-hosted debate, Congressman Bob Filner, DeMaio’s opponent in the November general election, cited his strong relationship with local Realtors during his 20-year congressional career.
Filner’s campaign didn’t respond to opportunities for comment.
Sanfillippo said the association looked at Filner’s federal record and chose to endorse a candidate more involved in city issues.
“Carl’s been very involved with our city, put forward a reform plan that we think would work; we’re very supportive of the (Proposition B), so certainly we’d like to see some of that implemented,” she said.
When asked, Sanfilippo acknowledged that new city employees scheduled to receive less favorable retirement plans buy homes too, but said the pension reform measure nonetheless improved the local housing market.
“We’re very supportive of city employees, there’s no doubt about that,” she said. “We just think there needs to be a plan put together that’s going to be a little more affordable on the backs of the city.”
Earlier in the year, DeMaio received the endorsements of the city’s Associated Builders & Contractors, the Associated General Contractors of America and the Building Industry Association, the main groups representing the city’s construction and housing industries. Along with SDAR, DeMaio now has the support of most of the local housing industry.
SDAR also is specifically concerned with the city’s business license tax, which it feels is illegally applied to local Realtors.
“The business license tax is just one example, that’s a multiple tax placed on the broker and the agent, and we know that’s something that will be addressed, and fairly,” Sanfilippo said.
The program requires that all businesses operating in the city acquire a business tax certificate to do so. The tax is often applied to Realtors in the city who operate much like independent contractors, as well as to the brokers the Realtors work through.
During SDAR’s “extensive vetting process” for its endorsement, DeMaio told the association that he agrees with their characterization of the business license tax as a double tax. He didn’t make any promises on the tax itself, but has a history of opposing double taxes, an SDAR spokesperson said, who added that the association is happy to have the right party pay the tax, but opposes its application to both Realtors and brokers.
DeMaio said the endorsement is the result of his focus on small businesses.
“Not only the brokers, but the independent agents are in essence small businesses each of them individually, and they don’t have the bandwidth to deal with the costs and regulations coming from City Hall,” he said.
He said his platform to improve neighborhood infrastructure relates directly to real estate buyers.
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