San Diego Business Journal

Mayoral Candidates Tout Plans, Trade Jabs

By Mike Allen Monday, April 30, 2012

Three of the four top candidates for San Diego mayor gave their views on issues at a forum April 26 at Bridgepoint Education Inc.’s headquarters, sponsored by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Rep. Bob Filner, the sole Democrat in the race, committed to attend but didn’t show up and no reason was given for his absence.

While the remaining candidates, Carl DeMaio, Bonnie Dumanis and Nathan Fletcher, made mainly pro-business statements and supported expected themes of cutting government and reducing regulations, there were a few moments of surprising candor.

Dumanis said the city needs to do whatever it can to retain businesses, not drive them away. One of the first things she would do if elected, she said, is abolish the $30 annual fee charged for running a home-based business.

DeMaio flew his credentials as a stout opponent of any tax increases and took credit for helping to defeat a proposed sales tax increase last year.

Fletcher said the city needs to become more competitive and entrepreneurial, and allow businesses to grow. “If you want to grow revenue, you have to grow the pie,” he said.

Regarding a possible Chargers stadium, Fletcher said the project should be done in a way that generates money for the city and combined with a sports arena that’s used more than 300 days a year.

Dumanis used the issue to slam Fletcher and entrenched politicians in general. “If you’re happy with what’s going on in Sacramento, then you should elect someone that’s been part of Sacramento for the last few years,” she said, referring to Fletcher’s two terms as a state assemblyman.

All three candidates spoke as if the Proposition B pension reform initiative was already passed by voters. Dumanis called out Filner for not bringing his reform plan (Filner opposes Proposition B) to the public. She said the defined contribution, 401(k) style system that would take the place of the current pension system for new employees could be supplemented with an annuity provision.

To the issue of potholes, Fletcher said he recently ran a marathon and heard lots of negative comments from visiting marathoners about how terrible the city’s roads are. If elected, he said he would hire someone to be in charge of rebuilding the city’s sorry infrastructure.

Dumanis said she fell in a pothole once, “but I didn’t sue the city, even though I am a lawyer.”

Dumanis said her chief executive experience as district attorney and ability to bring people together are key reasons she would make a more effective mayor.

DeMaio held up his 240-page plan for the city, titled “A Roadmap to Recovery,” that he said will effect the only real change to bring the city back from near financial collapse.

Dumanis said without leadership skills any plan is worthless to which DeMaio responded, “This is a plan that will save hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s not a campaign Post-it note.”

The San Diego mayoral election is June 5. If no candidate obtains a majority of the vote, the top two finishers will face off in the general election November 6.