Both candidates reject the contention that they are cut from the same cloth, and each has been attempting throughout the runoff campaign to establish her own identity. They agree that their differences lie largely in their styles of work and the nature of their political backgrounds.
McCarty, 45, resigned from Stirling's staff to enter the council race after two years of working on community issues for his office. She stresses her involvement in local issues (she served eight years with the Navajo Community Planners) as her strongest asset, saying it was the critical factor in her impressive primary performance. McCarty got 38% of the vote in the primary, which was restricted to District 7 voters. Roache finished second with 28%; Schulze had 26%.
"The people involved in community politics know me and trust me," McCarty said. "And people throughout the city are concerned about their communities, so I think the strength I showed in the district in the primary will carry over citywide on Tuesday. I've spent eight years making land-use decisions for my community; she (Roache) has never had to do that."
Stirling, who insisted that McCarty resign from his staff before entering the council campaign, said McCarty's "community involvement is her greatest asset. We offered her a job because she had demonstrated an unusual ability to deal with community issues. I came to respect her intelligence, her honesty and the fact that the work she did was extremely effective.
"She's not pro-developer, but she won't be used by the anti-development people, either."
Roache, 37, took an unpaid leave of absence from the staff of Assemblywoman Sunny Mojonnier (R-Encinitas) for the campaign. She previously served on the City Council staffs of Murphy and Schnaubelt. She has stressed her years of professional involvement in local politics, saying that, unlike McCarty, "I won't require any on-the-job training."
"The key thing is my experience," Roache said. "My background working in city and state government will enable me to get results right away."
In the final days of the campaign, Roache and her supporters have hammered away at the differences in the candidates' styles and have attempted to paint McCarty as a liberal who is wearing conservative's clothing because she needs to generate campaign donations.
Schnaubelt said that "because the two have essentially the same philosophies, it comes down to who will be the most confident and assertive, the one who will be least likely to buckle to special interests."
"McCarty strikes me as somewhat naive and subject to manipulations, and she doesn't even know when she's being manipulated," Schnaubelt said. "The people who are supporting her want someone they can call the shots for; she just doesn't know how rough-and-tumble politics can be."
Roache said McCarty's personality was "part Milquetoast, part deception. She flip-flops on issues, notably Proposition A, depending on where the campaign money is. It's very frustrating to hear her say one thing to one group and then turn around and say completely opposite things to another."
McCarty, although she does not support the measure, signed the petition to place Proposition A on the ballot because she feels voters should decide about the issue. She said Roache's recent tactics are "indicative of her campaign, which has been entirely negative. She finds fault with everybody; but to work effectively, you've got to be able to disagree without being disagreeable. Look at the acrimony on the City Council now. I intend to be part of the solution of bringing this city back together, not contribute to the problem."
The difference in the styles of the candidates was underscored at a recent candidates' forum at San Diego State, at which a student journalist asked how relations between the university and the city, often strained by issues such as inadequate parking and student housing, could be improved.
Roache fielded the question first, and in her characteristically fiery manner, said, "On my first day in office, I'm going to place a call to Mr. (Thomas) Day (SDSU president) and have him come in and see me. I see some real problems there."
McCarty, characteristically subdued, countered, "Anyone should know it's Dr. Day, not Mr. Day. And I don't agree with that method. It's time we lowered our voices a little bit, simmer down and open lines of communication."