Tuesday, March 24, 2009
San Diego City Council President Ben Hueso recently announced his intention to run for the 79 th District State Assembly seat in 2010. KPBS Metro Reporter Katie Orr sat down with Mr. Hueso to talk about his candidacy and why he decided to run.
Hueso says he’s committed to finishing out the remaining two years of his Council term. He was elected Council President just three months ago. But that hasn’t stopped him from making plans for the future. Plans that now include running for State Assembly. In addition to serving as the Council President, Hueso also sits on the California Coastal Commission. He says several people have told him he’d be a good fit in the Assembly because of his experience with regional government.
"I’d be able to assume that job and basically hit the ground running in a position at state level that’s very complex that has a number of obstacles to achieve neighborhood justice. So I’m very excited about this and I’ve decided very firmly that I think I’m the best person for the job,” he says.
Hueso says serving in the State Assembly would let him address a broader range of issues. And he says he would like to see things run more efficiently.
"I’m interested in structural change. I’m interested in making sure the tax payers get the full amount of value for the funds that they pay,” he says. “And, I think there’s a lot of duplication in government. I think there’s an opportunity to streamline government in many areas and also get rate payers the biggest bang for their buck.”
Hueso will continue to serve on the City Council while running for the State Assembly. And his term on the Costal Commission runs through the middle of May. He also serves on the San Diego Association of Governments Board of Directors and the League of California Cities among other duties. Critics have questioned whether all those obligations are detracting from his ability to serve his district. But Hueso believes he can juggle his commitments.
“You know, I don’t think that taking on responsibilities is necessarily a bad thing. If you deliver, if you’re able to perform at what the public expects, they’ll have the opportunity to decide if you’re doing a good job,” he says.
Hueso was first elected to council in 2005 then reelected in 2006. There are those who say he’s an ambitious politician who is just using the City Council as a stepping stone to a higher office. Hueso says that’s not a concern he’s hearing from his constituents.
"I’ve mainly heard that in questions through the media. But in the community, I think there’s an expectation that I go out there and fight really hard to bring resources to my district,” he says. “People want me to succeed in representing them. The more I do to help them improve communities, the more that they’ll benefit. And I think that’s the whole point of my service, to go out there and fight hard for the communities that I represent.”
Hueso says he believes there should be continuity in San Diego’s government. But he says term limits make that hard to achieve. He says he hopes to continue serving the voters in the future but through a seat in the State Assembly.
Katie Orr, KPBS News