Ending weeks of fits, starts and backroom conversations, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders wholeheartedly endorsed a tax and fiscal reform ballot measure passed by City Council earlier Friday, calling it a “historic agreement” that would “clear the final obstacles” to a financial overhaul initiated when he took office in 2005.

“This represents a pivotal moment, a turning point in our city and an opportunity to stabilize our finances far into the future,” Sanders said at an afternoon press conference after the council vote.

Sanders’ public and outspoken support of the measure, which would allow the city to increase sales taxes a half-cent once it completes 11 financial reforms, transforms the proposal from one endorsed almost entirely by the Democratic and organized labor camps to one that fits the grand compromise label bestowed on it by its backers.

Right before the council met this morning, Sanders issued a memo to say he would agree to a council decision to put a tax-and-reform measure on the ballot. Despite the memo, he didn’t appear at the meeting and it was unclear how far he would go to support the council’s action.

It’s the first time Sanders has endorsed the need for a tax increase since he was elected and, further, the mayor indicated he would be behind a campaign to promote the ballot proposal. The only other option, he said, was a series of draconian cuts to city services including public safety, parks and libraries.

“I’m committed to ensuring the voters’ decision is based on honest information and a clear understanding of where we’ve been what we’ve achieved and the future that lies ahead of us for the city we all love,” he said.

The mayor also denounced an alternative proposal from the council’s two Republicans, Kevin Faulconer and Carl DeMaio, calling it vague and filled with moving targets.

“I didn’t see anything specific in there at all,” he said. “It simply said reform.”

“When you have as [Councilwoman Marti Emerald] likes to say sound bites that say reform, reform, reform and it never mentions any specifics it’s pretty hard to know what that target is because it’s moving all the time,” he continued.


Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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