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Former San Diego Mayor Takes Business, Political Leaders On DC Lobbying Trip

Above: Former Mayor Jerry Sanders in his new office at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

This week, 115 of San Diego's business and elected leaders are on the other side of the country. They're visiting Washington, D.C. on an annual lobbying trip led by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Aired 9/30/13 on KPBS News.

This week, 115 of San Diego's business and elected leaders are visiting Washington D.C. on an annual lobbying trip led by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Former Mayor Jerry Sanders, now the Chamber's CEO, is leading the group on the seventh annual trip to lobby national leaders and bring more money to San Diego. Sanders said they'll meet with California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos.

"We'll talk to them about transportation needs in the region — in the past we've been successful at bringing money from that," Sanders said. "It's also talking about border infrastructure and the money that's needed to complete San Ysidro, and then talking with Defense and letting them know how important it is to fully fund the defense folks in San Diego."

The idea is to build new relationships, rekindle existing ones and generally remind people in Washington, D.C. that San Diego is here, he said.

"Since we're not close to D.C. like a lot of other cities, this is a chance to establish relationships and talk with elected and administrative officials about what's important to San Diego," he said.

Along for the ride will be Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, Councilmembers Lorie Zapf and Mark Kersey and other business leaders and elected officials. While the mayor usually attends these trips, the Chamber had uninvited Mayor Bob Filner during the sexual harassment scandal that enveloped him.

Sanders said he doesn't expect to have to do too much damage control after Filner's short time in office.

"People in D.C. knew Filner, and I think a lot of them were surprised he was elected mayor, so I'm not sure there's a lot of damage there," Sanders said.

There is a chance the federal government could shut down during the trip if a budget deal isn't reached. If that happens, Sanders said some of his group's scheduled tours will be canceled, but its meetings will likely continue as planned.

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