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As luck -- or life -- would have it, I was not at the press conference where Mayor Jerry Sanders cried as he revealed he had changed his mind , that he would not veto the council's support of gay marriage after all. But when I heard the tape, as he struggled to speak without breaking down, I felt the power of his emotion.

So it was a surprise to me when I heard a listener commenting that, though she was glad the mayor made that decision, she wondered why he was crying; surely having a gay daughter isn't THAT bad! And then someone else asked me what Sanders' tears were about, and whether they might partly be for all the support he knew he was losing among his conservative base, by taking that stand.

I have watched the mayor since he first announced his candidacy and I am compelled to say I feel his tears were not about what he was losing, but about what he had found.

It was a letting-go of the official mantle of conservative views he has had to adopt to represent those who put him in office (and who will keep him there, assuming he toes the line).

Businessman Steve Francis is breathing down his neck as the campaign season begins and Sanders is holding him at bay. The mayor is working to appease business interests who want to see managed competition happen faster, and hold the line for voters who balk at the mere mention of rate increases, even as the city's infrastructure continues to crumble.

But this week's decision on gay rights was an opening of the heart that was so strong, Sanders went against his better political judgment and revealed his true feelings, making himself vulnerable to unknown political consequences.

Anyone who has struggled with their conscience and then found they had to let go of the fear to find the love, knows what this feels like. So in this case, I, for one, choose not to be the skeptical journalist, but to take what I heard in Sanders' voice at face value, applaud his courage, and leave the sniping for another day.

-- Reporter Alison St John has covered city hall since 2003. Please read our guidelines before posting comments.

September 22, 2007 at 04:03 PM
I hadn't been much of a Sanders supporter until that moment. It must have taken a great deal of courage and strength of character to stand up there and do what is right. Especially when he knew it could cost him votes; of course, it gained him mine! But yes, I agree. I don't think his tears had anything to do with worry or fear. Quite frankly, it was one of the most genuine moments shared from a politician I've even seen. Thank you, Mayor Sanders. -----

Bill Spetnagel
September 22, 2007 at 06:18 PM
Anyone could cry I suppose, when they announce that they are going against their own beliefs and the laws of the Universe to placate a minority group of sexual perverts and their misguided supporters. But the truth is no one but the Mayor knows why the water works so someone should ask him.

September 23, 2007 at 04:12 AM
Bill Spetnagel sounds like a real moron. The reality is that Mayor Sanders has been "going against [his] own beliefs" on this issue throughout his political career to "placate" the Republican party. Faced with a choice between blatant discrimination against certain members of our community or equal treatment under the law, Mayor Sanders made the bold call...the right call. He understands that the decision may not be popular with Bill Spetnagel and the Christian Right, but he also knows it is the morally correct decision and one that comports with the United States Constitution. Bill, it is really sad that we still have people like you in our society (particularly in San Diego) in the year 2007. My guess is that you also continue to hold the steadfast belief that women should not be allowed to vote and that you should be allowed to own a few negroes. Get with the times, Senor!

September 24, 2007 at 04:19 PM
How is it that we as a society have all become experts as to why another person is having an emotional breakdown as was displayed by Sanders? I thought we had trained medical professionals for that. Even they admit at times not being able to determine the inner workings of ones personality. What ever his reasons only he knows! But it seems as usual we have everyone spinning this to their private agenda. His emotional display of tears for whatever reason should have been in private and not on the national stage. Tears are not a show of strength especially for a man! He was not elected for is ability to cry he was elected for his ability to lead.

September 25, 2007 at 09:40 PM
Dave had better be an island. He's such a tough rock of a man! Some will never change! Who cares what he thinks anyway?!

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