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1917 San Diego mayoral election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1917 San Diego mayoral election
Flag of San Diego, California.svg

← 1915 April 3, 1917 (1917-04-03) 1919 →
Louis J Wilde.jpg
George Marston.jpg
Nominee Louis J. Wilde George Marston
Party Republican Progressive
Popular vote 12,901 9,246
Percentage 58.3% 41.7%

Mayor before election

Edwin M. Capps

Elected Mayor

Louis J. Wilde

The 1917 San Diego mayoral election was held on April 3, 1917 to elect the mayor for San Diego. The election became known as the "Smokestacks vs. Geraniums" election because the dominant issue was whether the City's development should focus on planning and beautification or job creation and factories. In the primary election Louis J. Wilde, advocating for "smokestacks", and George Marston, derided as "Geranium George" by his opponents, received the most votes and advanced to the runoff. Wilde was then elected mayor with a majority of the votes.



Incumbent Mayor Edwin M. Capps declined to run for re-election, leaving an open seat.[3] The main challengers for the open seat were local department store owner and philanthropist George Marston, a Progressive, and banker Louis J. Wilde, a Republican. Also contesting the race was recently retired postmaster Charles Bartholomew.[2]

Marston had previously run for mayor in 1913 advocating for planned expansion of the city and projects that would lead to a beautiful and prosperous city rather focusing on commerce and industry.[4] In the intervening years, he had played a large role in shepherding through the Panama–California Exposition.[5] In the 1917 campaign, Marston once again emphasized planned growth. In his campaign, he advocated for city planning, energy conservation, and building and pollution controls on industrial development. He also supported the growth of the military industry, chiefly the navy and the Marine Corps, since he did not consider this to be industrial growth. Marston's campaign also had the backing of influential city leaders such as John D. Spreckels, E.W. Scripps, and Albert Spalding.[1]

In contrast to Marston, Wilde campaigned on a promise of increased industry in San Diego.[4] He campaigned strongly for the labor vote, arguing that increased industry would lead to good jobs and good wages.[5] Wilde billed himself as the "Smokestack Candidate" and labeled his opponent "Geranium George", giving the election its nickname.[1] Wilde campaigned more aggressively than Marston, for example threatening that if Marston won the Salt Lake Railroad would never arrive in San Diego. Marston often refused to respond to these accusations.[5]

On March 20, 1917, Wilde received the highest number of votes in the primary election, followed by Marston. In the April 3, 1917 runoff between the top-two candidates, Wilde received a majority and was elected mayor.[6]

Primary Election results

San Diego mayoral primary election, 1917[6]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Louis J. Wilde 8,728 47.1
Progressive George Marston 7,502 40.5
Republican Charles H. Bartholomew 2,297 12.4
Total votes 18,528 100

General Election results

San Diego mayoral general election, 1917[6]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Louis J. Wilde 12,901 58.3
Progressive George Marston 9,246 41.7
Total votes 22,147 100


  1. ^ a b c d Sies, Mary Corbin; Silver, Christopher (1996). Planning the Twentieth-century American City. JHU Press. pp. 171–173. ISBN 9780801851643.
  2. ^ a b "New Postmaster Will Take Office Today". The San Diego Union. March 1, 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  3. ^ "Mayor Extends Sympathy to Successor in Office". The San Diego Union. March 8, 1917. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Ports, Uldis (Summer 1975). Moss, James E. (ed.). "Geraniums vs. Smokestacks San Diego's Mayoralty Campaign of 1917 - San Diego History Center | San Diego, CA | Our City, Our Story". The Journal of San Diego History. 21 (3). Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Larson, Thomas (October 28, 2004). "Elections San Diego Style". San Diego Reader. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "Election History - Mayor of San Diego" (PDF). City of San Diego. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
This page was last edited on 29 October 2020, at 13:04
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