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Rotary Club Names Sanders ‘Mr. San Diego’

Former “Mr. Mayor” Jerry Sanders now has a new title: “Mr. San Diego.”

On Sept. 15, the San Diego Rotary Club bestowed upon Sanders the “Mr. San Diego” title – an award the club has given out to a Mr., Mrs. or Ms. each year since 1952. The award recognizes an individual who has given outstanding community service and has made the region better in numerous ways.

Sanders was honored for more than 50 years of service to the San Diego community. He began his service at the San Diego Police Department in 1973 where he worked his way all the way up to chief of police before leaving the department in 1999. For the next three years, he served as president and CEO of United Way of San Diego County before taking on the role of chairman of board of the San Diego/Imperial County chapter of the American Red Cross from 2002 to 2005.

In 2004, Sanders was elected mayor of San Diego where he served the city all the way to 2012. From April 2013 to today, he has served in the role of president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce – the West Coast’s largest chamber representing more than 2,000 businesses and an estimated 300,000 jobs.

San Diego Rotary Club President Judy Thompson and a series of speakers shared stories and praises of Sanders. The speakers included San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce board member Nikki Clay, Rotary Club past president John Morell, former San Diego City Manager Jack McGrory, Larry Lieber, Odie Gallup, Patti Roscoe, Sanders’ wife Rana Sampson and the Hon. Mike Smyth. The presentation also included video messages from California Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Mayor Todd Gloria.

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“What I see in Jerry is someone who is humble, authentic and willing to do the right thing, even when it’s hard,” Gloria said.

In his acceptance speech, Sanders showed his humble side, expressing that he had been “blessed” throughout his career by mentors and staff.

“I’ve learned from so many people, so many things that have helped me navigate the things that I’ve had an opportunity to do,” he said.

Sanders succeeds Dr. Frederick A. Frye, who received the Mr. San Diego Award in 2020.

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