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San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria Prepares For Assembly Swearing In

California State Assembly candidate Todd Gloria talks to San Diegans at Golden Hall in downtown San Diego, Nov. 8, 2016.
Milan Kovacevic
California State Assembly candidate Todd Gloria talks to San Diegans at Golden Hall in downtown San Diego, Nov. 8, 2016.

San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria Prepares For State Assembly Swearing In
San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria Prepares For State Assembly Swearing In GUEST: Todd Gloria, California assemblyman-elect, 78th District

Todd Gloria's two terms on the city Council coincided with some of the most tumultuous times in the city's history. He took office as the great recession wreaked havoc on the budget and as interim mayor he guided San Diego through the aftermath of Bob Filner scandal and resignation. Now he is about to assume his new office as state assembly member for the 78 district. Still representing San Diego only in Sacramento. He joins me now. What did you want to accomplish on the city Council when you were first elected and do you think you have achieve those goals? I think I set out to run because I was a housing activist. I served on the commission for several years, Toni Atkins was our activist and it seemed like it was important to have someone there. I have broadened the portfolio to include infrastructure, climbers structure and the budget. As much as I wanted to focus on housing, the finances required my time and attention. I've shared -- chaired the budget committee and I will tell you from the $200 million deficit that I started with to the surpluses. Our reserves are fill. I feel good about the finances we still have a ways to go on the issues of housing and homelessness. The pension costs are spunky -- spiking. It could wipe out the rainy day fund and lead to budget cuts. Are we headed into deficit territory again? Yes. There's a five-year outlook to show that. That was a result of actions that I opposed. One of the main drivers of the deficit being projected is passing proposition H, it was championed by the Mayor. I thought it was bad idea. It's going to contribute $17 million of the $37 million of the budget deficit projected for next year. If voters hadn't approve that we would not have the deficit the size that we are projecting. I opposed the message -- measure. It's nothing I'm proud of. You mentioned the pension issue, voters will remember being told to vote for proposition B, also something I opposed. They were told to vote for that because it would solve our pension challenge. To this it hasn't been solved entirely and voters should be more mindful in the future of when folks are selling easy solutions to what our complex problems, and both positions -- they sound great but in the case of H our roads are bumpy and in the case of B our costs are going up. In both cases, I wonder if the budget wouldn't be in a stronger position. I should've advocated harder. Todd Gloria you mentioned housing was your top priority and you got on the city Council. You said it's a top priority now is you are going to Sacramento. What is your experience working on affordable housing and homelessness in San Diego taught you about what the government can do? The state could be more proactive. One reason I want to be on the assembly is I've been disappointed in the actions of the state. In the state eliminated redevelopment, one dollar and every five dollars was going towards housing. Those funds have never been replaced. We've been without a permanent source of funding from the government to fund the construction of more affordable housing. There are number of other actions I could point to that exacerbated our problems with regard leads to housing and affordable housing. On the city Council, some things I've been able to do have it came to fruit just yet. We've updated three community plans for district 3 which provide more consensus and certainty for developers to construct units. As those plants take hold and people can process permits for new development, my hope is the inventory of housing increases. Measure A the half cent sales tax for transportation failed even though I got 57% of the vote. The two thirds approval required is a very high bar do you intend to work to change that? I think it's worth looking at. It's already been done for schools they now have a 55% to show. Infrastructure and its nexus to development and job creation requires the conversation. Measure A did fail. I hate the headline. 57% of countywide voters, that's people in Ramona, downtown, San Ysidro all said this was the right idea. I've heard a lot in the last few weeks about the electoral college in the popular vote and how that's an injustice. I don't know that I disagree. When a measure like measure A gains bipartisan consensus the approval of 50% progress is stalled, it will be rough going. We won't see investment in the repair of our roads and rebuilding of our bridges and expansion of our public transit. I'm hopeful we can find a new consensus, your listers are sitting in traffic and they don't have to. It doesn't have to be this way. Many people expected you to run for mayor after Mayor Felda resigned or this past year one Mayor Faulconer was up. Why didn't you? I think after Bob Filner's resignation you needed a full-time mayor. The responsibility for serving as mayor felt to me because of our city's charter. While that was interesting it just didn't seem the right thing to do. I could do two things poorly run for mayor and people I could do one thing well which was be Mayor. People were comfortable with the way I handled myself and I think my judgment worked out. Now the right place to be is in the legislature. I have seen things in the past eight years out of Sacramento that I am not happy with. Executions are not helping. I could be a voice for San Diego to make sure outcomes make things better. I like to remind people I'm 38, I'd like to think I have time in the business and don't come me out. I hopefully have a long future in public service. I love what I do. I love getting up with the sole purpose of making our city a better place. What issues are you leaving behind that you can't take on as assemblyman? It's the infrastructure. That is the thing that is hard to get done. You have seen that I've tried through a variety of avenues to get folks to work on this issue. I haven't been successful. At some point that bill will come due and it's far cheaper to do it now then do it in a crisis situation. I hope that the Mayor and city Council will tackle this. There too many potholes in this town. We can fix that. Good luck as you head to Sacramento. We hope we see a lot of you during their tenure there. I've been speaking with Todd Gloria. Soon-to-be state assemblyman for the 78 district. Coming up, how district elections may change politics in El Cajon. It's 12 deck 20. You are listening to KPBS Midday Edition.

San Diego Councilman Todd Gloria's two terms on the Council have coincided with some of the most tumultuous times in city history. He took office as the Great Recession wreaked havoc on the city's budget and, as interim mayor, he guided San Diego through the aftermath of Mayor Bob Filner's scandal and resignation.

He is now preparing to be sworn in at the state Assembly on Dec. 5, still representing San Diego. He'll represent the 78th Assembly District, replacing Toni Atkins, who is moving to the state Senate.

Gloria said one of his top priorities in Sacramento is increasing affordable housing, building on his experience chairing the San Diego Regional Continuum of Care Council, which manages federal housing funding in San Diego.

“I served on the housing commission for several years before I was elected. Toni Atkins was our housing activist on the City Council, she was terming out, it seemed like it was important to have someone there. In the eight years since, I’ve really broadened the portfolio to care a great deal about transportation, infrastructure, climate change and the budget,” said Gloria. “I feel pretty good about the city’s finances. I think we still have some ways to go on the issues of housing and homelessness.”

One of Gloria’s primary motivations for running for state assembly, he said, has been his disappointment with some of the state’s actions over the past eight years, specifically the state’s elimination of redevelopment.

“When the state eliminated redevelopment, one in every five dollars of redevelopment money was directed to affordable housing and those funds have never been replaced,” said Gloria. “So, we have been going a number of years now without a permanent source of funding from the state government to fund the construction of more affordable housing. There are a number of other actions I can point to from the state that I think exasperated our problems with regard to housing affordability and homelessness. And I want to go up there to be a champion to either block some of those things that aren’t good ideas or to advance things that are good ideas.”

Gloria briefly served as the city’s interim mayor following ex-mayor Bob Filner’s resignation. When asked why he didn’t run for mayor, Gloria said he felt the city would be better served if he didn’t focus on trying to run during the interim process.

“I could do two things poorly, run for mayor and be mayor. Or, I could do one thing really well, which was be mayor,” said Gloria

But, Gloria said he now feels that the best place for him to serve the public is in the state legislature. Gloria said he hopes to be a “strong voice” to make sure that the outcomes of state decisions benefit San Diego.

“I always like to remind people I’m 38. So I’d like to think I still have a lot of time in this business, so don’t count me out," Gloria said. "Hopefully, I have a long future in public service. I love what I do, I love being able to get up every morning with the sole purpose of making our city a better place.”