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Three years ago, when he gave his first State of the City address, Mayor Jerry Sanders came out swinging.

Shedding the more cautious, pragmatic side he’d shown on the campaign trail in 2005, the mayor joined solidly with then-City Attorney Mike Aguirre to advocate for the removal of the entire pension board and to make Aguirre the pension board’s attorney. It was quite a radical step for the establishment candidate.

From our Jan. 13, 2006 story:

Mayor Jerry Sanders sought a clean break with San Diego’s troubled past Thursday, using his first State of the City address to catalogue the depths of the city’s governmental dysfunction and lay the blueprint for his three-year rebuilding experiment.

In his 30-minute speech, the new mayor attempted to drive a distinction between the “strong and healthy” people and economy of California’s second-largest city and the legal, political and financial crisis gripping the city government he inherited last month.

While he made quite a statement with that speech, both initiatives ended up falling flat and, well, that whole Sanders-Aguirre love fest sputtered along tenaciously for a while before completely exploding.

A year later, Sanders was more restrained.

From our Jan. 12, 2007 story:

A year after rattling the City Hall establishment with a series of bold initiatives and candid assessments, Mayor Jerry Sanders settled into a more comfortable State of the City address Thursday, reiterating last year’s theme that sacrifice for all lies ahead and promising that 2007 will be the “year of action.”

San Diego’s 34th mayor continued to attempt to inject an unbridled optimism into civic life — hailing everything from San Diego’s sports stars to its academics and natural resources — while at the same time issuing dark premonitions and preparing residents for the budget cuts that have been expected since his victory in a 2005 special election.

Last year the mayor gave us a subtle but important shift.

From our Jan. 11, 2008 story:

Mayor Jerry Sanders showed off a more ambitious side Thursday evening in delivering his third State of the City address, mixing in the sort of big-ticket ideas normally expected of a big city mayor with his standard meat-and-potatoes updates on city finances.

With his campaign aides preparing for a reelection campaign, the mayor dedicated the first half of his speech to updating residents on his efforts to restore City Hall’s financial health — the issue that had led to the resignation of his predecessor and dominated his first two addresses.

With everything that’s happened this year, I imagine Sanders will be returning more toward the tone of his first two speeches when he delivers the first State of the City address of his second term tonight at 6 p.m.

Stay with us for updates throughout the day and the full story later tonight.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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