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The San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau – one of the groups that for years has supported building a new airport – is staying neutral on the November Miramar ballot initiative.

The ConVis board of directors unanimously voted to take the stance late last week. Twenty-two of the board’s 37 members voted.

Lorin Stewart, chairman of the board, said the bureau has historically stayed out of most political issues, endorsing only two measures in recent memory: Building the downtown ballpark and the San Diego Convention Center. Both had unanimous City Council support, Stewart noted.

Stewart emphasized that ConVis gets 70 percent of its funding from the city of San Diego. Its leadership runs the gamut of opinions on the airport. Mayor Jerry Sanders is neutral. Councilmen Brian Maienschien and Jim Madaffer are opposed. Councilman Tony Young, who also serves on the airport authority, is supportive.

ConVis is one of a handful of local groups that has long supported a new airport in San Diego. ConVis has been a part of ASAP21, a pro-new-airport group that worked closely with the airport authority during the three-year site-selection process.

While staying neutral, the ConVis board agreed to “reaffirm its longstanding position in support of improvements to San Diego’s air transportation infrastructure and a new international airport, as is advantageous to tourism.”

Stewart avoided questions about whether a Miramar airport would be advantageous to tourism.

“We shouldn’t be getting involved with ballot measures,” he said. “We really want to focus on sales and marketing.”

ROB DAVIS

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