San Diego’s Mayor: Present, Past, and Future

by on March 13, 2019 · 4 comments

in San Diego

Editordude: The following opinion does not reflect that of the OB Rag.

Part 1 of 4: Mayor Kevin Faulconer

By Norma Damashek / NumbersRunner / March 13, 2019

Kevin Faulconer, San Diego’s 36th mayor, is finishing up his last term in office.  Recently, I was taken to task over my choice of adjectives when describing our mayor.  I was criticized for being too negative.

It’s true that I’ve called him a lightweight.  An embarrassment to his constituents.  An elected official lacking independence, imagination, backbone, and the political moxie to do right by our city.  I even referred to him as a chip off the old Jerry Sanders block.

Lately he’s been parading around the country as a moderate politician destined for greater things (and who knows? one day he might take a tip from Nathan Fletcher–that other photo-ready manikin who knows tricks Faulconer’s public relations firm never dreamed of–and get reborn as a barnstorming Democrat).

But ask yourself: what has Mayor Faulconer accomplished FOR our city? (uh…hmm…well…)

Now compare that to what has happened TO our city under his watch:

  • thousands of people grossly overcharged on their water bills… city departments using sloppy standards, rules, and procedures… faulty road repairs… unfunded sidewalk upgrades…
  • lazy oversight of basic city operations… unmaintained city property… failure to monitor city contracts… frequent failure to compensate vendors …
  • inconsistent planning, permitting, and building enforcement policies… messy vacillation over deals to expand the Convention Center… humiliating miscalculations over the Chargers Stadium land deal… ditto for the Soccer City land deal…
  • years of inaction over the city’s vacant and abandoned downtown central library…misleading financial reporting of our employee pension morass… neglect and growing decay of San Diego’s centerpiece Balboa Park…
  • gross mismanagement of real estate deals… purchase of a skydiving center without prior appraisal… botched lease-to-own deal for vacant SDG&E/Sempra Energy headquarters…
  • chronic lag in city response to public complaints about potholes, sinkholes, missing streetlights, illegal dumping… skyrocketing costs at a Sherman Heights facility to store homeless people’s possessions…
  • unconscionable switchback policies to alleviate homelessness… preventable deaths on the streets from exposure, Hepatitis A… ongoing absence of secure public toilets… broken and abandoned shower facilities at the city’s sole day center for unhoused people who sleep on downtown streets…

This is what’s happening to our city under a mayor who lacks leadership ability, management skills, and accountability.

No one says we need perfection in our elected officials.  We’re not demanding brilliance or purity.

If you care about the quality of your daily life, your family’s welfare, how your taxes are spent, the health/ safety/ wellbeing of the people around you, then good would more than suffice.

So what would a good mayor would look like?

Someone with the smarts, energy, ambition, and cunning to know how to kill two birds with one stone.  That is, someone who understands that promoting the greatest good for the greatest number of San Diegans would inevitably promote the greatest good for her/his personal political future.  It’s a win-win setup.

San Diego voters will elect a new mayor in 2020 (the primary election is March 4).  Frontrunners include Todd Gloria, Barbara Bry, and Cory Briggs.  Is any one of them good enough to be San Diego’s next mayor?

Before we answer that question or jump onto anyone’s bandwagon, shouldn’t we have a three-dimensional picture of these candidates?  I’ll leave it to them to figure out how to put their best feet forward and publicize their own strengths, records, accomplishments, and goals.

As for us voters, we can honor this year’s Sunshine Week by checking out the next three installments of San Diego’s mayor: present, past, and future.  They will deliver a candid look at the undersides of San Diego’s potential mayors… unsightly warts and all.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Richard March 14, 2019 at 8:38 am

Well done Norma.Look forward to part 2-4.

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Avatar Robert March 14, 2019 at 9:49 am

I also enjoyed your article — Very well written.
I thought the exact same thing of Nathan Fletcher the first time he ran for office many years ago — He was for quality education for all of our children and quality health care for us all blah, blah, blah. He and his ex-wife looked like Ken and Barbie. His slick glossy mailers stuck to things everyone could agree on but didn’t really say much of anything of substance.
As for Mayor Faulconer’s record, I give him credit for at least doing some maintenance of the infrastructure. In my neighborhood, pot holes are being filled, roads maintained and repaired, etc. I work in Sorrento Valley and see city crews proactively preparing the drainage system for rains etc. helping to prevent flooding. I have seen a marked change from how things were done during the days of Filner and Sanders when most of the money was being siphoned off to city contracts, employee benefits, and pensions, and no money was left over for any of these things I am seeing today.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie March 15, 2019 at 12:05 pm

It’s fun reading your take, Norma, but you’re really harsh here on Nathan Fletcher.

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Avatar Norma Damashek March 17, 2019 at 5:14 pm

We all agree that perfection is not our goal. Instead, we develop certain standards to help us answer the question: is this politician good enough?

Being aware of the complex motivations and behavior of an elected official doesn’t necessarily mean outright rejection of him/her. What it means to me is staying alert. As someone once said: forewarned is forearmed.

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