In putting together my story for today on Mayor Jerry Sanders’ scorecard on fulfilling campaign promises, I conducted a pretty lengthy interview with him last month. However, a number of interesting exchanges from the interview didn’t make it into the story because they weren’t really on topic.
I know, it’s hard to believe considering how long the story turned out.
So, for your enjoyment, I present some pieces of the interview that landed on the cutting room floor. (I realize these may seem a little like Barbara Walters questions, but keep in mind we also went over his financial promises in pretty grueling detail before this, so there were plenty of tough questions.)
Me: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Sanders: You know I think it is returning the financial stability to the way it was. I think it’s been in communicating with the public. I thought it was pretty funny that Francis was pissy about my press conferences, but that’s one of the things I promised, is that we would communicate with the public and we have really tried to do that. We’ve done it in good news and bad news. We’ve done it a lot.
Me: What was your biggest mistake?
Sanders: Sunroad is absolutely the biggest mistake that I’ve made.
Me: In what ways?
Sanders: In trying to limit the city’s liability, it appeared that I was caving in to a developer. I don’t think that’s true, but I should’ve been able to foresee the issues. Staff, we made mistakes. They took a guy’s word for it, he lied to the FAA, he lied to the city.
We didn’t monitor how high he went, he just blew past that point. And while trying to limit that liability while this is being carried on, you know, when they asked to weatherize, and we said we don’t know if we’re going to win or lose this thing because we did issue building permits, I said yeah, go ahead and weatherize. I didn’t realize he was going to finish the damn building.
So, you know, I think the whole thing was a massive mistake. …
Me: Do you have fun?
Sanders: I can’t say this is fun. People ask me that all the time, it’s like they want to believe I’m having a lot of fun. This is the toughest job, the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life. And every decision I make, I know a lot of people are going to be slamming me, even if they agree with me, that’s what they do.
That’s the way that politics is played.
Me: Is that the part that’s hard about it? The criticism?
Sanders: I think at times it builds on you. When you are doing things you know are right and you have people slamming you for sport, but on the other hand I’m pretty thick skinned and I understand this game, and I feel good when we accomplish things.
Me: Did you have to sit down and seriously consider with your family if you were going to run again?
Me: It wasn’t an open and shut case?
Me: How long was it?
Sanders: You know it was a bunch of weeks. Your family are the ones that are always most affected by this, affected by the criticism, the news, how I come home at night. How busy I am. I think there was some real soul searching on behalf of myself. …
Me: Biggest lesson?
Sanders: I think the biggest lesson is that, it’s just what we’re talking about, that that’s you have to do what you think is right and you’ve got to keep the ball moving and you can’t freeze in place and you have to have good intuitions, you can’t over analyze.
I think that we’re making progress and I think we’ve made actually pretty rapid progress in 28 months given what we’ve faced. And I just hope people will put that into context and not just remember the last three months or six months and remember what the city looked like when I took over in 2005. And I think if they look at that and look at where we are right now, they’ll see we’re making tremendous progress. But there’s still a lot to do.
What you’re going to see out of me in the next four years is what you see from me now, and that’s pushing financial stability and making tough decisions. But it’s also going to be looking at the long-term building of San Diego in terms of clean tech industries and exploring the convention center downtown because those are fueling the economy and job creation.