Strong Slate for City Voters

San Diego voters have a happier set of decisions facing them when they go to the polls Nov. 3 than they have had in some time. Not only will they select four new members of the City Council, but also the field is largely composed of candidates who show the promise of bringing interesting new ideas and a great deal of enthusiasm to the city's governing body.

Beginning today and concluding next Sunday, we will share our views on the candidates. But we are happy to say that in none of the races do we consider our endorsements a choice of the lesser of evils, but rather an opportunity to recommend candidates who can truly make a contribution. We'll start with District 2, where Councilman Bill Cleator is retiring after eight years in office.

Republicans Ron Roberts and Byron Wear, who have been involved in civic affairs for years, are now making their first runs for political office. Wear, 33, has been involved in numerous campaigns as a professional consultant and has worked on projects and organizations within the 2nd District. He is also a former Republican Party official.

Roberts, 44, an architect, has considerably broader experience in government, having served as chairman of the San Diego Planning Commission and as chairman of Mayor Maureen O'Connor's growth-management task force. To our mind, he is not only the better candidate in the 2nd District race, but also is probably the most promising new candidate to run for City Council in years. We recommend him warmly.

What appeals to us about Roberts is both his experience and his outlook on city government. He expresses a clear vision for the city's future when he talks about designing a new sewage system that will recycle water rather than simply make it cleaner before it is dumped into the ocean; spending city funds to develop a trash-to-energy system the community will accept, and possibly dividing San Diego's commercial air traffic among different airports. At the same time, Roberts understands that the role of the council is to set policy and not to manage the day-to-day operation of city government.

He displays a depth of understanding about the problems facing local government and a sensitivity toward issues such as restoring confidence in the Police Department. Roberts would bring to the council badly needed maturity, polish and sound judgment. He should make an excellent councilman.

In the 4th District, where Councilman William Jones has resigned to return to school, the candidates are two longtime governmental aides, the Rev. George Stevens, who works for Rep. Jim Bates, and Wes Pratt, administrative assistant to Supervisor Leon Williams. Our recommendation is for Pratt.

Pratt, a 36-year-old lawyer, has a better grasp of citywide issues than does Stevens, 55. Yet he also has a commitment to build on Jones' successes in improving the environment in the 4th District through Project First Class and attracting more jobs with the Southeast Economic Development Corp.

Pratt recognizes that the City of San Diego cannot solve problems such as garbage disposal and growth management in a vacuum but needs to plan in conjunction with county government and the other 17 cities. And, he seems to understand the delicate balance that the 4th District councilman must achieve between identifying with his constituents, many of whom have bitter feelings about the state of police-community relations, and supporting and building the Police Department.

As with Ron Roberts, we believe Wes Pratt would be a healthy influence on the City Council and has the potential for a successful career in elective office.

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