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The mayor should make Assistant Fire Chief Javier Mainar San Diego’s next fire chief and save the city the trouble and expense of launching a national search for a successor to Tracy Jarman, Local 145 President Frank DeClercq just told me.

Mainar is more experienced even than Jarman, who announced her retirement last week, DeClercq said, adding that he’d be an ideal chief for California’s second-largest city.

“To me, of all the people I’ve worked with, and I’ve been doing this for 30 years, there’s never been a guy that I’ve respected more,” DeClercq said. “I have never heard anyone say a bad word about Javier Mainar. He’s always been forthright and honest and he’s highly educated.”

Mainar told me a few days ago that he’s flattered to have the support of the union. He said he’ll be throwing his hat in the ring when the city starts to look for a new chief to succeed Jarman, who will officially retire later this month but stay on in an interim position for another 60 to 90 days. Jarman has also said she supports Mainar as the next chief.

Mayoral Spokeswoman Rachel Laing said the city will soon launch a nationwide search to find a new chief. DeClercq said that would be a waste of time and money. With the city in dire financial straits, Mayor Sanders need look no further than the current fire department, DeClercq said, and he plans to tell the mayor that.

“With morale as low as it is here, it seems important to me to look to an internal person who knows how to operate a department like this on a shoestring,” DeClercq said.

Fifty-one-year-old Mainar has been with the SDFD since 1980. He was promoted to engineer in 1984, then promoted to captain in 1986. In 2003, he was made a battalion chief and he was promoted to division chief in March 2006. He was made assistant chief a few months later in June 2006.

The only other candidate from within the department that I have heard about is Deputy Chief of Operations Brian Fennessy. Fennesy, who is 49, was hired at the department in 1990.

WILL CARLESS

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