With the nomination of Laurie Black, there is now a candidate pool for the vacant city of San Diego port seat. Stephen Cushman, the current commissioner, was nominated in December.

The appointment process has evolved into an ongoing drama, as there is no clear-cut indication about who the eight-member council will appoint.

Here’s what the players were saying Thursday and Friday:

  • Mayor Jerry Sanders has opposed Cushman’s reappointment, arguing that two terms is enough. He informally suggested Peter Q. Davis, who is also an ex-port commissioner, as an alternative, but Davis is not expected to garner the appointment.

Sanders, who doesn’t have a vote on the matter, said he thought Black was “a good nominee,” but added that he hasn’t decided who to support.

  • Cushman’s supporters are varied, including members of the labor, business and environmental community. Jerry Butkiewicz, the secretary-treasurer for the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, reiterated his support for Cushman despite the controversy. “When you’ve got an exceptional person like this, why would you not want him?” Butkiewicz said. The mayor’s opposition is “mind-boggling to me, quite frankly,” he added.

Black has played up her liberal credentials — working for Congresswoman Lynn Schenk and housing a janitor strike in her office, for example — when pitching herself as a labor-friendly alternative to Cushman. But Butkiewicz was unwavering. “We have a good relationship, but we are supporting Steve Cushman.”

  • The Chargers football team is currently scoping land on the National City and Chula Vista waterfronts for a potential stadium site. The Chargers said Cushman’s experience as a deal broker is invaluable to the team as they quickly look for a new home field.

“The time for the Chargers is very short and we don’t want to go back to square one on port-related issues,” team spokesman Mark Fabiani said. “No matter how qualified Laurie or any other nominee is, it’s not possible to recreate in a short period of time the wide range of relationships and contacts that Mr. Cushman has accumulated over the years.”

  • The Port Tenants Association is expected to make its endorsement Jan. 17, executive director Sharon Cloward said.
  • Councilman Ben Hueso said Friday he would wait until the February meeting when the appointment is discussed to make up his mind.

Currently, Councilmen Scott Peters and Jim Madaffer endorse Black. Councilmembers Donna Frye and Brian Maienschein support Cushman.


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