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SANDAG Begins Search For New Executive Director After Gallegos Steps Down

SANDAG Executive Director Gary Gallegos sits in a SANDAG board meeting, Aug. ...

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Above: SANDAG Executive Director Gary Gallegos sits in a SANDAG board meeting, Aug. 4, 2017.

The board of directors of the San Diego Association of Governments voted Friday to embark on a national search for an executive director to succeed Gary Gallegos, who resigned in the wake of a devastating report on an erroneous revenue projection for a failed ballot measure.

The board of the regional planning agency unanimously approved the plan, which includes forming a search committee of directors, who are elected officials with local cities and the county Board of Supervisors.

RELATED: Embattled SANDAG Executive Director Gary Gallegos Wants Out By Friday

The hiring of a replacement for Gallegos could take up to eight months, according to a staff report, which some members of the board said was too long.

Chairman Ron Roberts, a county supervisor, promised there would be plenty of opportunity for the public to weigh in during the search process.

Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas said the agency needs a fresh perspective.

"That's the whole discussion we have going on here, is that you don't want to do things the same way that you have done before," Salas said. "Yes, SANDAG has done really, really marvelous things, but there comes a point in time when you have to examine an organization and look at it with very, very fresh eyes and consider different ways of doing things."

SANDAG is trying to recover from a scandal in which an economic modeling error caused it to overstate the projected revenues from Measure A, which would have raised the countywide sales tax by a half-cent in order to pay for transportation and environmental improvements. Staff became aware of the problem before November's election, but failed to inform board members or the public.

The measure fell short of the two-thirds necessary for passage.

Gallegos resigned shortly after the release of a scathing report from an Orange County law firm commissioned by SANDAG that primarily delved into details of the failed economic forecast, but also found that agency executives ordered the deletion of documents related to the issue that were less than 60 days old.

SANDAG is also the subject of state legislation that would modify certain governance procedures.

The directors were scheduled to discuss placing an initiative before voters that would include their own reform ideas, but the item was postponed to a future meeting.

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