Monday, December 8, 2008
San Diegans who attended the swearing-in ceremony for their newly elected city council members got a taste of the different personalities who’ll be on the dais.
Today they’ll find out what kind of leadership the new council will have.
KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.
Each new councilperson had just a few minutes to introduce themselves, give a glimpse of where they’ve come from and what they want to do for the city.
Sherri Lightner, who’ll represent district one, including La Jolla and Carmel Valley, admits she’s pretty much brand new to the business of governing.
Lightner : I’m not a highly polished politician, I did not spend massive amounts of money to get here. This was my first run for elective office and I won with the help of a whole lot of you in the audience.
Lightner told her constituents not to underestimate their power to influence city hall. She
talked about bringing about a “profound change” in which the public interest rather than private interests will determine her decisions.
District Three’s new representative, Todd Gloria, also used himself as an example that anything is possible in San Diego.
Gloria: I stand before you, the son of a hotel maid and a gardener, a Native American, Pilipino, Puerto Rican, Dutch, gay guy who, with the love of his family, the benefit of an education and the good fortune of being born in this city, has just become your council member.
Gloria has worked for Congresswoman Susan Davis. He walked to the inaugural ceremony from North Park in his district with 100 supporters, to demonstrate his commitment to neighborhood issues.
Carl DeMaio, representing District 5 including Rancho Bernardo, is no political neophyte. He’s come from Washington D.C. where he lobbied for privatization at the federal level. DeMaio didn’t make a speech… he showed a video, complete with sound track.
DeMaio: It’s going to be a lot of hard work but I think if we work together, cooperatively, and focus on the people’s business, we can create a city government we can once again be proud of . ….“it’s a beautify day” rock band
Carrying on the theme of restoring trust in government after a rocky few years at San Diego city hall, the new representative of the College Area and District 7, Marti Emerald, issued a rallying cry for change.
Emerald : At this moment, we join together and begin a new era in this great city, a new era in government, a new era of public involvement, a new era of social justice, laying the foundation for san Diego’s future.
Before the glow of the inaugural speeches had faded, hard reality hit the council. The crash of the fighter jet out of Miramar meant Lightner and Emerald had to deal with an emergency. The decision of whom to vote for as the new council president was postponed.
However the remaining council members took public testimony on the question.
UCSD economics professor, Ross Star, was on Donna Frye’s fiscal advisory committee. He was one of several who advocated for Frye as the new council president, calling her industrious and fearless.
Star: but we discovered that she had an unpredictable virtue, she was candid and forthright even when that was inconvenient. She brings high principals and fresh air to a sometimes stuffy chamber.
But Frye has fallen afoul of the labor unions in several key votes.
Mickey Kasparian, President of UFCW, was one of those who think Ben Hueso should be chosen to lead the council.
Kasparian : He has been a tremendous strong advocate for working people and their families, irregardless of the consequences that might directly affect him.
Later today the new council members will move beyond rhetoric to face their first tough decision – the choice of who will lead them toward the profound changes they say they hope to make at San Diego City Hall.
Alison St John, KPBS news.