Jerry Sanders, former San Diego police chief, will be the city's new mayor come December, winning more than 53 percent of the vote to San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye's 46 percent in a special election Nov. 8.
It was a stunning reversal of fortune compared with the special mayoral election July 26, when Frye led a pack of 11 candidates with 43.5 percent of the vote, while Sanders took second with 27 percent of the vote.
They were running for the seat vacated by Mayor Dick Murphy, who stepped down July 15, plagued by financial crisis and federal investigations.
Sanders and Frye have spent the last few months of the campaign focusing on the city's dire financial straits, with Sanders touting his Action Plan for Recovery, while Frye pushed her "Triple A" financial plan as remedies.
But Frye continued to lose ground in the polls, while Sanders won precedent-setting endorsements from the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce. On Oct. 21, the Performance Institute, a San Diego-based government reform think tank, selected Sanders' proposals as offering the city "the best chance to put its fiscal house back in order."
At one point, Sanders even brought in Arthur Laffer, one-time economic adviser to President Reagan, and creator of the fabled Laffer Curve, to discredit Frye's last-resort plan to raise the sales tax by half a cent. Frye had countered that, "Trying to sell your way out of this, by selling off city land, or issuing more bonded indebtedness doesn't make sense. My plan addresses all these financial issues, with safeguards to make sure these types of debts aren't going to happen again."
But, in the end, Sanders won the day. While there has been no firm date set for his swearing in, pending certification of the vote by the registrar of voters, the city's election division said it could be as early as Dec. 5.
Meanwhile, San Diego businessman Kevin Faulconer, who took more than 34 percent of the vote for the 2nd District City Council seat vacated by Michael Zucchet, will square off on Jan. 10 against second-place candidate Lorena Gonzalez, a San Diego attorney, who took more than 25 percent of the vote.
Ben Hueso, a small-business owner, won more than 38 percent of the vote for the 8th District City Council seat vacated by Ralph Inzunza. Hueso will battle the second-place finisher, Luis Acle, the president of the San Diego Unified School District board, who took more than 18 percent of the vote.
Zucchet and Inzunza resigned their seats in July following their convictions on corruption charges.