Yesterday, San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith told me that he remained undecided on running for re-election next year, something that has surprised some political watchers who believed Goldsmith had pledged to serve one term. Goldsmith told me yesterday during his 2008 campaign he had said “probably not” on potentially running in 2012.

I put a call out in my blog for old Goldsmith quotations and received a few responses. So far, I don’t have a definitive answer, but I have a couple that are interesting. I neglected to do it yesterday, but it’s worth noting that the one-term idea fit with the primary theme of his campaign. Goldsmith built his run around being apolitical, in contrast to his 2008 opponent Mike Aguirre, who was criticized for being overly so.

From a July 2010 interview in now-defunct website San Diego News Network:

SDNN: So my last question, are you planning a second term?

JG: I said early on it is one term. Very early on, that’s what I said. Unless — I think I left myself a little wiggle room — unless we haven’t progressed as an office to the level that I want to progress to. But we’re there. I’ll tell you, I believe that the San Diego City Attorney’s office is at the top echelon of municipal law firms in the country right now. Right now because we’ve installed the case management system on the civil side — without that it was tough to manage, to say that we could compete — but it’s completed the picture. Unless it starts to all crumble, this is where we want to be and we want to build even better on it. We’re doing things I don’t believe other law firms are capable of doing. We have a labor unit that is second to none. We’re going to take back labor negotiations. We’ve already done it on managed competition. We’ve taken it in house, something the city hasn’t done in a very, very long time. We’re going to do more and more of that. So, yeah.

SDNN: So, one term, unless everything crumbles.

JG: Yeah, unless everything crumbles. This is not another political career. I said this during the campaign, after the campaign. The challenge of rebuilding this office and helping the city is what attracted me. It wasn’t the political environment. If anything — the first question you asked — it’s what gave me hesitation.

If Goldsmith runs again, does that mean — to use his language — everything has crumbled?

Update: Just received an email response from Goldsmith. He noted that the SDNN story I quoted was from July 2010, a year and a half after his election. Here’s his answer on potentially running for a second term:

It certainly would be a change of mind. There’s nothing wrong with that if there’s a good reason. I’ll make the decision and let people know within the next 2-3 weeks. If I change my mind, I’ll explain why. If I don’t change my mind, I’ll explain why not. … I don’t believe I’ve ever flat out stated that I will not run for re-election. I’ve always left some ‘wiggle room’ on that as I wasn’t certain.”

Please contact Liam Dillon directly at or 619.550.5663 and follow him on Twitter:

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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