In 1996, then-San Diego City Councilwoman Christine Kehoe voted to underfund the city’s pension system, the first in a cavalcade of decisions at City Hall that led to its enduring financial crisis.

Kehoe, now a state senator, announced today she planned to file papers to explore a run for mayor in 2012. Her decision, she told me in a brief interview, allowed her to raise money and gauge her support before formally committing to the race.

The Democrat’s mayoral announcement, it seems, is so tentative that she didn’t have an answer when asked if she’d take back her 1996 vote on the pension underfunding plan, known as Manager’s Proposal 1.

“That will be one of the issues we’ll talk about when we make our decision about running for mayor,” Kehoe said.

Kehoe also didn’t want to take a position on a lightning-rod ballot measure that would replace pensions with 401(k)-style plans for most new employees. That measure is expected to be on the June 2012 ballot, the same as the mayoral primary. She said she’ll be developing her stance on pensions going forward.

“The pension issue is going to be a big issue throughout the campaign,” she said. “I want to make sure I have all the facts.”

Other candidates already have taken more definitive positions. San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, a Republican, already has come out against the 401(k) measure, but has yet to offer her own pension proposal. Republican Councilman Carl DeMaio, though he hasn’t officially committed to the mayoral race, was one of the measure’s authors.

Kehoe said she didn’t have a timeframe to make a final decision about her candidacy.

“I’m really looking forward to testing the waters,” she said. “It’s something that I want to do. We have to see if we have the support we need.”

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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