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Outgoing Mayor Sanders Holds Final News Conference

Evening Edition

Above: Jerry Sanders held his final press conference as San Diego's mayor on Tuesday, November 28, 2012.

Aired 11/29/12 on KPBS News.

Jerry Sanders held his final news conference as mayor of San Diego this morning. He officially leaves office on Dec. 3.

Out-going San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said his official goodbyes to the media today. In his final news conference as Mayor, Sanders reflected on his seven years in office.

He listed some accomplishments, including streamlining city government and getting some major civic projects off the ground. His proudest accomplishment? Financial reform. He told reporters today that he and his staff were "immersed'' with fiscal issues the first two years, as they tried to get the financially troubled city back into the bond market and implement recommendations of a consultant.

Sanders admits he didn’t always like the job of mayor and often found it to be too political.

"You know, I’ve enjoyed it from the perspective that we’ve been able to get a lot done," he said. "But I’m not a politician by nature; I’m not a politician by training. And I found politics to be a relatively difficult occupation."

Sanders said even victories left him and his staff feeling like they’d taken a brutal beating. Still, he said he believes his administration accomplished as much as it could during his seven-year term.

Sanders also took time to thank city workers for their service. Municipal employees in recent years worked harder and made less money, and around 1,500 of them were laid off, he said.

Sanders also credited the City Council with making tough decisions on a variety of issues, some of which put members at odds with their "natural constituencies.''

"It’s been an honor to be the mayor of this city," Sanders said. "It’s been a tremendous challenge. There have been some sleepless nights, but there’s also been a tremendous feeling of accomplishment because so many people have worked so hard to solve these issues."

Sanders, a former San Diego police chief, became mayor in 2005 in a special runoff election, succeeding Dick Murphy who resigned after the pension scandal, which led The New York Times to dub the city “Enron-by-the-Sea.”

Sanders is credited with leaving the city in far better financial shape than when he took office, and winning passage of a 401(k) system for city employees that is gaining national attention as a model for how to rein in pensions.

During the recent mayoral campaign, Sanders expressed worries that Mayor-elect Bob Filner would reverse many of his policies. Sanders endorsed Filner's rival, outgoing City Councilman Carl DeMaio, for the job. But at his closing news conference, Sanders said the reforms of the past few years were already in place.

Filner, always prepared with one-liners, popped into the room where the media was assembled and jokingly announced a "coup,'' saying that he was taking over early. He departed before Sanders took the podium.

The outgoing mayor is set to become president of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce early next year. He figures to get a generous bump in salary over his $100,000 annual pay as mayor -- a figure frozen during his entire term (council members make $75,000 annually).

Filner will become San Diego’s 35th mayor since 1850.

An inauguration for Filner, re-elected City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and council members Marti Emerald, Todd Gloria and Sherri Lightner, and incoming councilmen Mark Kersey and Scott Sherman, is scheduled for Monday at 10 a.m. at the Balboa Park Club. The public is invited.

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