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San Diego Mayor Sanders Aims To Be A Closer

With his time in office winding down, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders took to the stage of downtown’s Balboa Theater last night to give his final State of the City.

Aired 1/12/12 on KPBS News.

With his time in office winding down, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders took to the stage of downtown’s Balboa Theater last night to give his final State of the City.

The room goes dark and a video begins to play. A young boy appears in a gritty part of downtown San Diego. As Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself” starts to play, the boy is seen running past the lot where a new Chargers stadium may be built, then the rendering of a new stadium is faded in. The video continues hitting all the major projects proposed for the city, an expanded Convention Center, new central library, a revamped Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders

Above: San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders

Mayor Jerry Sanders' 2012 State of the City address shown as a
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Above: Mayor Jerry Sanders' 2012 State of the City address shown as a "Word Cloud," which gives greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.

And then the ominous tones of “Hells Bells” rang out across the Balboa Theater. The video screen and lights flashed red as Mayor Jerry Sanders walked on stage. The meaning was clear, Sanders’ term is in its final innings, and just like famous Padres pitcher Trevor Hoffman, Sanders is looking to close out the game with a win.

Sanders is terming out of office. And he began his speech by listing the wins he already counts in his column, starting with financial reforms.

“By working with our labor organizations to dramatically reduce our exposure to skyrocketing retiree health care costs. Our efforts will save taxpayers more than $700 million,” he said, “making this the biggest cost-saving measure in city history.”

Sanders also touted his efforts to reform the pension system and close the city’s structural budget deficit; its chronic problem of spending more than in takes in. He said San Diego must continue to focus on physically improving the city.

“We’ve already invested hundreds of million into community projects, including our aging water and sewer infrastructure,” he said. “And we’re now in the midst of the largest street repaving program in city history -- 150 miles of road, more than were repaved in the previous eight years.”

From there Sanders moved on to what he thinks needs to get done in the coming years. As the opening video demonstrated, major development projects play a large role. He stressed the need to expand the Convention Center, saying the expansion could bring nearly $13 million a year to San Diego’s General Fund. Though critics have pointed out there’s currently no cap on how much the city might pay for the expansion.

The mayor also championed a possible deal to build a new Chargers stadium, though the plan remains vague.

“The approach we’re committed to will keep the team competitive while requiring no new taxes. It will protect the General Fund. It will deliver a positive return on our investment. And it will keep the project affordable by building on regional cooperation,” he said.

Sanders ended his speech by plugging San Diego’s growing reputation for craft beer brewing. But for labor leader Lorena Gonzalez the speech was just more of the same.

“If the mayor’s entire economic program is revolving around low-wage jobs and beer, I think we have a problem here,” she said. “There are 57,000 San Diegans losing their homes and we didn’t hear anything about how we are going to fix that disaster.”

Gonzalez said San Diego needs to think about the long term financial implications before embarking on several major development projects. But Chamber of Commerce President Ruben Barrales liked what he heard from the mayor.

“I think resolving the structural deficit for the city is critical,” he said. “And then, an expansion of the Convention Center and a potential new regional sports complex are great economic news for San Diego.”

Councilwoman Marti Emerald said she generally agreed with the mayor’s optimistic outlook for San Diego. But she said a lot remains up in the air.

“Time will tell to see if some of the bigger projects are going to be workable,” she said.

The crowd at the mayor’s speech seemed generally receptive to his grand vision for the city. But he was briefly interrupted by Occupy San Diego protesters who tried to shout over him. Those protesters were in turn shouted down by the crowd, which began chanting the mayor’s name. Four protesters were arrested and the mayor continued with his speech, demonstrating that, at least last night, he had the home field advantage.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | January 12, 2012 at 9:03 a.m. ― 5 years, 2 months ago

I think sanders has been a decent mayor. Not great but decent.

For people who think sanders has been terrible, I ask you to envision one of these two nightmares:

*Mayor Carl DeMaio

Mayor Bonnie Dumais*

The thought of either makes my skin crawl to the point where I would consider moving. I would put a transfer in at my company and take my life, salary, job and business elsewhere.

I support Bob Filner for mayor and Fletcher, while not someone I would vote for, at least seems moderate enough not to completely ruin our city.

But either DeMaio or Dumanis would significantly change out city, and not in a good way.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | January 12, 2012 at 9:25 a.m. ― 5 years, 2 months ago

*A mayor Dumanis:*

I voted for Bonnie when she first ran for DA. San Diego's long history of cronie back-room politics in county government, particularly in the DA's office was well established.

All I knew about Dumanis at the time were her personal items that were played up in the media - a gay Jewish woman.

I looked at all three as a positive. Change is what we needed, and I thought a gay Jewish woman would mix things up a bit, bring some much needed diversity to our homogeneous county leadership, bring some new perspectives and new ideas to the job.

Unfortunately, it became quite clear soon after taking office that Dumanis is a cronie business as usual hack above anything else.

What has she done different as DA?

Not a damn thing.

Just more back room politics, cronie back room dealings, political maneuvering, and keeping the public in the dark on important decisions.

If Dumanis is to lead the city as she has lead the DA's office, the public can expect all decisions being made by her "players" behind the scenes, and the public will be kept in the dark.

Dumanis is not camera friendly, and she hates being put on the spot.

She refuses to give clear stances on issues like prop 13 and city services, and there is no reason to expect anything other than an evasive, vague, back room hack if she gets the mayor's seat.

I noticed a gay bar with a mostly older gentlemen clientele has a huge advertisement for her campaign atop their establishment. I hope the gay community does not succumb to her or DeMaio's pandering. As much as I would love to see San Diego have a gay mayor, I fear having an *ineffective* gay mayor like DuManis or DeMaio could actually **harm** the gay community by hindering future candidates. A future gay candidate may be up against a public bitter on the nightmare of a mayor Dumanis or DeMaio and think, "remember the last time I voted for an openly gay person, they were a disaster.". As a gay person myself, I want San Diego's first gay mayor to be someone of integrity (like Toni Atkins who actually served as interim mayor for a period) and not someone corrupt and inept like Dumanis and DeMaio.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | January 12, 2012 at 9:39 a.m. ― 5 years, 2 months ago

*A Mayor DeMaio: High Drama, Little Integrity*

Much like Dumanis, DeMaio is a scary prospect for our city in my opinion.

I know people who have known him personally, and he is a very immature, vindictive person.

We saw this clearly during his campaign for city council where security cameras caught him and some friends driving around town destroying opponents political signs like a bunch of teenage hooligans.

DeMaio also like to scare tax-payers, and this is why I think he has some measure of support in the community.

People tend to buy-in to his fiscal rhetoric but, looking at his record, it is really only rhetoric.

DeMaio is the ultimate carpet-bagger, and has used properties back east he designated as his 'residence' while living in SD to get out of taxes.

His person/business life has been full of poor management and corruption (in fact a website illustrates much of his poor record).

DeMaio is also well in the pockets of big developers.

This is **extremely** important given what has recently happened with our local newspaper.

The UT has been bought by "Papa" Doug Manchester, a millionaire developer and political activist. With a Mayor DeMaio, we would not only have "Papa" Doug's evil tentacles tainting our news media, but also molesting our city through the mayor's office. If Dirty Carl is elected, we might as well just give "Papa" Doug the key to the city.

Of course DeMaio always comes out against civic and infrastructure that could actually benefit San Diego residents, but if one of his Big Development buddies wants to build a vanity tower he will sign on without even blinking.

A Mayor DeMaio would make Jerry Sanders look like a brilliant savior, THAT'S how disgusting and downright scary the though of Dirty Carl sitting in the mayor's seat really is.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | January 12, 2012 at 2:13 p.m. ― 5 years, 2 months ago


I agree with your assessment: "Sanders has been a decent mayor. Not great but decent." But that is where your commentary about him stopped.

I'm all for hearing criticism about mayoral candidates, but please back it up with credible sources. is produced and funded by the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO. It is not a credible source for criticism of DeMaio.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | January 12, 2012 at 4:37 p.m. ― 5 years, 2 months ago

@californiadefender, completely disagree.

I don't know what "group" is responsible for, but their articles are backed up by many links to official documents and sources. Look at the site, each piece if full of links in underlined red text that you can click pn tp pull up a verifying source.

Just because a group you may not like allegedly operates the site does not mean the information contained within is false.

This site has been around quite some time and I have yet to see DeMaio refute any of it.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | January 12, 2012 at 4:42 p.m. ― 5 years, 2 months ago

Californiadefender, I confirmed you are indeed correct with regards to who is paying for the site. But my post immediately above still holds true, they are very thorough with providing verifiable information about mr. DeMaio.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | January 14, 2012 at 6:39 p.m. ― 5 years, 2 months ago

I read through a few of the articles posted on that site, but much of what the AFL-CIO lists as sources are opinion pieces, not actual news.

Referencing a labor union is like referencing the RNC for news about a Democrat and vice versa They are all political entities with zero credibility.

I'm not too excited about any of our mayoral candidates, but when groups like the AFL-CIO attack one of them, I ignore it. However, I give weight to endorsements. You can learn far more from a person's friends than their enemies.

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