CARLSBAD — The race has come to the sprint finish as three candidates are battling to claim the open District 1 seat on the City Council.
Current Councilwoman Cori Schumacher, Tracy Carmichael and Simon Angel are jockeying for position to represent the Village, Barrio and Olde Carlsbad as the trio heads into the March 3 special election.
The winner will fill Barbara Hamilton’s seat, left vacant when she resigned Oct. 8, 2019, due to family health reasons. Hamilton has thrown her support behind Angel, the admitted dark horse candidate whose campaign doesn’t have the financial, or political, resources like Schumacher and Carmichael, who are backed by the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively.
“We’re doing all we can and will be going right up until Election Day,” Angel said. “We know we’re like the dark horse in the race. I was surprised to see how much resources they have.”
After Hamilton’s resignation, the council wanted to appoint a replacement, but a number of residents were able to gather signatures to force a special election. It was a divisive time for the politically active in the city, but regardless, the election is upon District 1 voters.
It is why Angel jumped in the race, he said, becoming the first person to declare and also submitted an application for the appointment. He said his focus is strictly on Carlsbad and representing District 1, which has had no representative since Hamilton stepped down.
His operation has been grassroots, he said he’s been at a big disadvantage due to the sizable war chests of Schumacher and Carmichael, each of whom started their campaigns with more than $20,000.
Over the course of 2020, Schumacher has raised $42,149.13 with $30,069 coming from five unions. Carmichael, meanwhile, raised $18,700 over the same period with $3,000 coming from the Carlsbad Research Center Association.
Angel raised just $3,757.58 with his largest donor being Hamilton, who emptied her campaign coffers of $1,622.58 on Dec. 6.
“I think folks are energized by this election,” Carmichael said. “It has allowed me the ability to learn more and to be able to sit in the audience and have greater knowledge of what’s happening.”
Schumacher, who was elected in 2016 as an at-large candidate, has had several legislative victories, especially after the 2018 election landed two Democrats on dais. She championed the move to Community Choice Energy, noting working with Mayor Matt Hall to develop the program and governance was a sign of working together to best benefit residents.
Also, she was able to “pull back” a portion of the Village and Barrio Master Plan to address development designs to include objective standards and parking-in-lieu fees to establish a public parking garage on south State Street, to name a few.
“It took me a long time … my position on development is to make sure there is housing for our working families,” Schumacher said. “And to put power of design with the people. But homelessness has overtaken development as the No. 1 issue. It’s really the key issue.”
Despite falling short for her mayoral bid in 2018, Schumacher also discussed some of the attacks and challenges, especially online, of her positions, such as sharing an office with Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath during the 2018 campaign, union support, growth management, the expressive activities ordinance and this year’s Proposition 13, which does not address property taxes, but is a $15 billion statewide school bond, according to the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office.
“I’m not paying attention to what’s going on, on social media,” Schumacher said. “If I wanted to turn us into a sanctuary city, I had a majority on council and I would’ve done that. Don’t be afraid, it’s not going to happen. There’s no value in it.”
Carmichael said her support has grown since her failed bid in 2018 against Hamilton. She said she is confident in this year’s race, noting homelessness is arguably the biggest issue facing District 1, and the city.
Carmichael said homelessness is tied to addiction, citing the veterans housing project in the Village as a housing-first model regardless of sobriety.
“I think they need to be clean and sober first,” she said, adding the model is flawed. “Then they (supporters) expect that the wraparound services will be placed at their front door and they (homeless) are going to openly accept them. That’s not how this works.”
She also addressed another hot issue with transit and trenching the tracks in the Village. Carmichael said she supports trenching, but first the state and federal government must act quickly to stabilize the bluffs in Del Mar, which have collapsed several times over the past year.
The last came within feet of the tracks in November 2019, something Carmichael said poses a severe safety hazard, which is why she doesn’t want to trench until those efforts have been safely addressed.
As for Angel, a lifelong resident of the Barrio, he is committed to pushing for upgrades to the Barrio along with developing term limits so the city can leverage new ideas without falling into one point of view or ideology. He is also championing a balance of development in the Village, noting residents he has spoken with are concerned about the direction of the neighborhood, especially the three- and four-story buildings.
“I think with a lot of the residents of the Barrio community and older Carlsbad residents, I think my message is resonating more with those folks,” Angel said. “2019 was a divisive and rancorous situation. One of my many things is to try and get the community back together, but not as Democrats or Republicans, just so we can get back to Carlsbad.”