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Nathan Fletcher Signed Anti-Tax Pledge In 2007, Says He Would Not Sign It Now

May 14, 2012 1:15 p.m.


Nathan Fletcher is currently serving in the California Assembly representing the 75th district and is a candidate to be San Diego's next mayor.

Related Story: Nathan Fletcher Signed Anti-Tax Pledge In 2007, Says He Would Not Sign It Now


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CAVANAUGH: Nathan Fletcher currently serving in the California assembly representing the 75th district. And welcome.

FLETCHER: Well, thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to actually be in studio as opposed to on the phone

CAVANAUGH: You have seen a big boost in the polls after announcing that you were switching from the Republican party to become an independent. Is that when you expected?

FLETCHER: Well, it is. I've had a long running frustration in my time in office with both parties. And the simple reality that in today's environment it is so partisan, and so dominated by the extremes, by the far right, and the far left, are there's an inability of people to sit down and negotiate and come to solutions.

CAVANAUGH: You say you've had this frustration for quite some time, but until recently, you were campaigning for an endorsement by the Republican party for your mayoral candidacy. Therefore that's attracted some criticism that you're an Independent in name only.

>> Well, you're always going to get criticized. And we knew that we would never get that endorsement. But we have a long track record, from the first time I was elected all the way through. Of working with people regardless of party. The legislation that was lest known was certainly Chelsea's law. But we've authored other legislation to allow people who have lost their job to keep thirds requirement health insurance. We did legislation to help homeless youth out there. We worked on legislation to help preserve and protect our environment. And time and again, we've demonstrated a willingness to buck the Republican party when I believed that was the right thing to do. And even before the move to independent, was the only candidate running who had colleagues of mine who were Republicans and Democrats supporting me because I focus on solutions, stepping out of your comfort zone, if it's the right thing to do, is exactly what I'll bring for mayor. We've just formalized it. And sent a powerful signal to the voters of exactly the type of mayor I'll be in elected.

CAVANAUGH: And yet going back to that independent in name only, you signed the ultraservetive Grover Norquist's no tax pledge. Are you now backtracking on that commitment?

FLETCHER: Well, I knowledge you build a stronger economy, help people keep jobs by keeping taxes low. And I have said by moving forward, my only pledge is to do the right thing for the people I represent.

CAVANAUGH: So this doesn't apply to you anymore?

FLETCHER: Well, it does. And I don't believe that coming in and raising your taxes is the way we put people back to work. But we've got to be able to have conversations. I worked with Jerry Brown on a loophole that would have brought millions. Dollars of new money intoical California. If you read the Union Tribune, they say that violates the pledge. Then so be it, we provided working relief to the working poor, small balance businesses, and manufacturers. And because of today's environment, you can't have rational conversations like that. And if I'm the mayor, we're going to have rational conversations about being economically competitive, investing in infrastructure, education, and making sure we're the best place for small businesses to create jobs.

CAVANAUGH: On what issues do you really differ from the other Republicans in this race? It seems as if the three -- the independent and the two Republicans seem to have the same ideas on pension reform and other issues facing the mayor.

FLETCHER: Well, I think that there is a stark and clear difference between FLETCHER and myself. We are two c9ompletely different people. I was in a meeting with someone, and about ten minutes into the meeting, I said you should support Carl FLETCHER. I'm hearing what you want, and what you want is not who I am, and I can only be who I am. He promises to make us the Wisconsin of the west, and he's not talking about cheese. He's talking about a state defined by paralysis and chaos, and conflict, and riot, he refers to people he disagrees with as the enemy. Well, I have fought in a war, I have seen an enemy. We don't have enemies here. My approach is to sit down in good faith, if we disagree, we're just going to disagree. I don't have to think you're a bad person or you're trying to destroy, we're just going to disagree. And I don't think there could be a greater contrast than develop the two of us.

CAVANAUGH: You mentioned that you have seen combat. There are candidates who have said they want to run the city like a business. You often sound like you want to run the city like a marine battalion.

CAVANAUGH: Is that going to work with other elected officials at City Hall?

FLETCHER: What will work is bringing that can-do, Marine Corps attitude that says we can get it done. I could never go out on a mission in Iraq, get halfway through, and then decide it wasn't convenient for me and go back and report that I hadn't gotten it done. So that will work. The other thing that will work, in the Marine Corps, you understand that it is about leadershiping and teamwork. I was a team commander, a team that operated in remote regions, and I was only as good as my ability to inspire and to lead and to motivate those that I serve with. I'll bring that same approach in, but you don't as mayor, you really have to be able to work with people. You got to be able to work with the council. You saw Tony Young come out and endorse my education plan, I've worked on working with Lorie Zapf on legislation reform, and David Alvarez, I've worked with Marti Emerald on the pedi-cab negotiation. If you talk to my colleagues, they'll say he'll work with you and treat you well, and I'll do that as mayor.

CAVANAUGH: You've been criticized for missing votes in Sacramento, around 200 votes, while you run for mayor of San Diego.

FLETCHER: Well, I'll put my record of accomplishment up against anyone in this race. We have had more legislation passed and signed into law certainly than anyone from the party I was in. We have a track record of bridging people together and getting things don't. You don't have to be in Sacramento to serve your constituents, and mine know I'm working tirelessly every single day to make sure their interests are protected

CAVANAUGH: One of them you missed was SB29. Do you support proposition A?


CAVANAUGH: Why weren't you there for that vote?

FLETCHER: This goes back to -- there's been days I've missed where we had mayoral debates, and I missed that, I'd be criticized for missing that. I just wasn't in Sacramento.

CAVANAUGH: Say you represent a new generation of leadership in San Diego. In 2010, there was that so-called midnight deal, and it would have helped the power structure get the Chargers stadium financed. Is that any indication of your new leadership style?

FLETCHER: I don't think there's an issue in my time in office that has been more misunderstood. What we did was in an open session of the legislature, with every member having a chance to read the legislation, to read the analysis, to debate it on the floor of the assembly, pas legislation, they gave San Diego billions of dollars of its own tax dollars to maintain here, and provided $300 million to the city's general fund, provided more money to San Diego's schools, and it did it all in a way that insured not one penny would be spent out a full and public debate by the City Council to determine where the priorities were. We provided a legal certainty. And we had an opportunity to bring Democrats and Republicans, business, and labor together to do the right thing for San Diego, our schools,ow city, and put people back to work, and I am proud of that effort.

CAVANAUGH: We have to end it there.