Wouldn’t it be great if we had elected officials in San Diego who understood complicated policy issues, and worked hard for the city and the region? Somebody who wasn’t too scared of sometimes angry constituents to make the improvements our city needs? Who treats staff professionally and respectfully? Somebody who had the respect and trust of people in the other cities in the county and in the state, and who could use that stature to bring money, resources and improvements to San Diego? Maybe even fluent in Spanish, so he could lead us on border issues?

Oh wait, that’s Jim Madaffer.

Any elected official who works with Jim is impressed with his command of policy on planning, transportation, housing, redevelopment and technology. He works cooperatively with people to solve regional problems, unlike the politicians who use people and opportunities primarily to augment their own political power. He was instrumental in extending the regional transportation sales tax, worth $14 billion; passing Proposition 1A, preventing further state raids on local government revenues; and the huge success in the recent large allocation of state bond funds to our county.

In his district, he has not been afraid to recognize the need for neighborhood enhancement, even when it scares the pants off the neighbors. But his push for controversial redevelopment in Crossroads and Grantville has and will beautify those areas with new tax revenues, and will support efforts to reclaim the San Diego River as a recreational resource.

Last week, he went to Mexico City with local elected officials and representatives of our business community to discuss a third border crossing and opportunities for sharing airports cross-border. He, Pedro Orso-Delgado of Caltrans, and Gary Gallegos of SANDAG conducted their meetings with Mexican officials solamente en Español, which could only have helped bring about the success that folks are reporting from the trip.

You can tell that his colleagues trust and appreciate him. He is the first person from the big bad city of San Diego chosen by the region to chair its most powerful single committee — the SANDAG Transportation Committee. This year, he is a vice president of the League of California Cities, in charge of the statewide housing agenda, and in September, he becomes the league’s president.

He has his faults, as do we all. He is a hot head, whose intemperate comments on the microphone are the subject of parody within the council (sorry, Jim), and can make a listener cringe. He is also kind of a geek, who might have been president of the audio-visual club in high school. (But when the projector doesn’t work at one of my meetings, I want Madaffer on my committee.) He has other faults and has made his share of mistakes, many of which have been widely reported.

So why am I writing this long, gushing tribute to my colleague, as though he recently died? (And for which I will take certain grief from my colleagues.) Because voiceofsandiego.org, which openly scoffed at his representing us in Mexico, is so particularly hard on him. I think your criticism is, at best, an incomplete treatment of Madaffer. Those who work with him know how much he cares about San Diego, how good he is at his job, and how successful he’s been for San Diego and California. The public ought to hear that story also.


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