Three years since the recession struck, its effects are still felt in San Diego. It was a dream wrecker leading to many people losing their homes and jobs.

While recent reports suggest that the job situation in San Diego has slightly improved, the area still has the same challenges with unemployment as the rest of the country. Unemployment locally is 10.5 percent, still above the national average of 9.1 percent.

Continuing our polling of the 2012 mayoral candidates, VOSD asked those running to tell us, in 350 words or less, what they would do to get San Diegans back to work.

Here are their responses:

Carl DeMaio, City Councilman: “I have made it clear that my top two priorities are fixing city finances and getting San Diegans back to work. As the only businessman running for San Diego mayor, I have a unique perspective and experience for tackling San Diego’s economic problems.

More importantly, I’m not waiting to become mayor to get policies in place to help job creation in the private sector.

I was proud to launch my “Pathway to Prosperity” initiative recently. This plan includes seven major reforms to help create jobs, prepare San Diego’s workforce for careers in our local economy, and cut red tape. Throughout this plan I lay out new and innovative ideas to make city government a help, not a hindrance, to economic recovery in our region. The ideas in my plan are so attractive that some of these ideas have actually been emulated by my opponents. I’m thrilled the “Pathway to Prosperity” is already driving the job discussion — a net positive for San Diego businesses and the workers they employ.

To help expand my job creation proposals, I have brought together a task force of local business owners who will provide feedback and input on my jobs plan; I launched a job creation hotline, and will conduct a series of job creation town hall forums over the next four months to get ideas from real San Diegans.

I have talked to countless small business owners, contractors, restaurant owners, and others who tell me the same thing: they just want government to get out of the way and allow them to do business. That means cutting red tape, reducing costly restrictions and bureaucratic hurdles, and streamlining the permit process.

Starting there and continuing with innovative new ideas such as “job sector coordinators” to encourage growth in industries like clean tech, biotech, high tech, defense, construction, tourism, and others, we can start turning around San Diego’s unemployment problem.

I welcome ideas and feedback from anyone who, like me, is committed to getting San Diego back to work.”

Bonnie Dumanis, District Attorney: “As mayor one of my major focus areas will be job creation, so people of all education and skill levels will have the opportunity to get a good-paying job. We all know that it’s expensive to live in San Diego.

People are having difficulty just trying to survive, let alone prosper if you are unemployed or underemployed.

As mayor, I will work with leaders from the government, private and nonprofit sectors to develop short-term solutions and a long-term economic development and job creation strategy.

For the short-term, we must attract and retain businesses through cutting red tape and regulations at all levels of government and the city must lead the way. That means fewer permits — faster! I plan to work with business leaders to make sure obstacles to expansion are eliminated so more San Diegans can get back to work and get our city moving.

The military fuels our local economy to the tune of $16 billion annually. As mayor I will make sure the military receives the region’s undivided support and assistance in growing their local presence.

Tourism also plays a critical role in our economy and as mayor I will work to build the needed infrastructure to support and grow tourism, including expanding the convention center and making San Diego a preferred destination for travelers. And we must maximize the economic opportunities of our port and our tech clusters, including biotech, clean tech and life sciences.

For the long-term, we must focus on the education system. We must have an educated workforce to meet the demands of the 21st century economy.

Our diversity can be a key economic driver in terms of language and international trade. Industry leaders know what skills their employees need now and in the future — as mayor, I plan to not only ask them, but will work hand in hand with them to insure we have a skilled labor force to fill the jobs being created.”

Bob Filner, Congressman: Filner failed to respond, though his campaign spokesperson acknowledged receipt of the question.

Nathan Fletcher, Assemblyman: “I will work with private-sector leaders who are creating the technologies and the jobs of tomorrow to make it easier and more attractive to establish, grow and relocate a business in our city. This begins with things traditionally viewed as under the mayor’s purview — improving the city regulatory environment, permitting and infrastructure. We recently unveiled a detailed plan on streamlining and modernizing the process to get a permit to start a business in San Diego. But the job requires more. The mayor is a regional leader who must project a vision for the future.

It is time to rebrand San Diego from “America’s Finest City” to “The World’s Most Innovative City.” Embracing innovative industries and the creative economies will help us become a powerful magnet that attracts good-paying local jobs and a vibrant local economy. The mayor must use his or her influence and policy-making abilities to make this happen. This includes being the chief advocate for our established industries in the technology centers like our bio and high tech, but also pushing the tremendous potential of new clean, wireless and information technology. It also includes lobbying and working with federal officials to ensure our military and defense presence and investment in research and development is protected and expanded. The mayor must also take into account our role in a competitive and global world by leading the charge on upgrades to our ports, airports, and border crossings. As mayor, you are the chief salesman for San Diego — working to attract and retain jobs on a daily basis.

Over the course of this campaign we will lay out plans on issues from manufacturing to defense, water and energy availability to transportation and infrastructure and many other areas. Each of these will detail our commitment to make San Diego the best place in the world to create 21st century jobs. But it requires more than just details plans and a vision for the future. The next mayor must have a demonstrated track record of bringing people together to get things done.”

Hud Collins, trial attorney: “Yes, each candidate must have a plan (for unemployment and attending social problems). My own employment plan — each candidate must articulate, debate, show how their plan works. Before implementation, San Diego must get its financial emergency and crisis solved. We have verified audited books.

No candidate has a clue on how to get the city out of its emergency/financial crisis; without solution there is no way to address the needs of its citizens (includes homelessness). Immediate debates, by the media organizations to debate my plan to solve the financial emergency/crisis in the city. With $15 billion in city assets (City assets, $4 billion liabilities and a $2.145 billion pension deficit); transfer $2.145 billion over to the retirement fund; new Dodd-Frank law and GASB requirements; the unfunded pension liability must be reported on the corporation’s side. Transfers assets (create 100 percent funding). Retirement fund immediately closed. Then, 401 (k) is set up for all employees with a 3% match/3% match plus for all public safety. Immediately save $160 million and save $2 billion in five years.

All financial/related problems of the city are solved! Savings will allow the city to raise the 32 percent city services (32 percent compared to 2001 levels). During recession, city services must increase to accommodate its citizens — then job for vets, etc., then employment programs can be set up for the homeless, veterans and the other out of work citizens. There has to be money available for the creation of jobs programs. Low-cost loans to startup companies, for independent contractors — new businesses, for homeless and for veterans creation of jobs for them. Without the ability of the city to put money up (even for volunteer services) and address this recession — the city will fail in its obligations to take care of its legal residents. It is the obligation of every candidate to immediately put forth their ideas and plans.”

Loch David Crane, magician and retired teacher: “It is not the Mayor’s JOB to fight unemployment, it is his or her CHOICE since it’s not in the job description; thus I believe security, safety, and sustainability would be higher priority issues.

Americans can find work immediately — by using the federal E-Verify system to assure that new jobs go to legal Americans, not illegal aliens. With the support of President Barack Obama, even big local employer Costco now does this.

These millions of stolen jobs also provide a solution to the national unemployment crisis, hovering today at 14.5 million people or 9.1 percent. Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 11.5 million illegal aliens have broken federal law by entering America illegally. We could offer jobs to 11.5 million Americans!

Wouldn’t it be nice to have 11.5 million American homeland jobs? Yes we can — and it is as simple as asking employers to E-verify their new and current workers. President Barack Obama asks illegal immigrants to get in the back of the line, pay a fine, learn English, and become naturalized.

Bureau of Labor Statistics cited 150,000 or more unemployed people in San Diego. Union-Tribune’s Morgan Lee “estimated 198,000 illegal immigrants in SD County” (June 2011):

198,000 illegal aliens consuming local jobs

150,000 unemployed San Diegans seeking work

= 48,000 illegals who deserve deportation or need naturalization.

If we simply move the illegal aliens out, we will have jobs for all San Diegans. If you are an employer who may have illegal workers, simply call 1-800-375-5283. “You may also report aliens themselves if you believe they are in the country illegally, whether they are working or not. You should have the address of each suspected violator at a minimum, and as much additional information as you can obtain,” cautions the National Service Center.

Crane volunteers for the Border Patrol Auxiliary, guarding America while you sleep.”

Steve Greenwald, compassionate physician, businessman, and civic activist: “Yes it is the responsibility of the mayor.

Prosperity makes up one of the three responsibilities of our civic government, the other two are public safety and public health. All are equally important and codependent in our city’s quality of life! To create jobs we must tell the world why we love living in San Diego by marketing our great city to increase tourists from our neighboring states and from the countries of Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Japan and Germany, by using the San Diego port authority’s marketing department and the national airlines to produce a 30 minutes video to entice more tourists! Expand biotech, defense and communication industries. Build a new multibillion dollar industry! Aquaculture growing tilapia in El Centro which is a perfect location, thus reversing the $10 billion balance of trade deficit with the Chinese and Vietnamese seafood. Promote cruising before and after large conventions in San Diego, and market this unique combination of our convention center and cruises together.”

Rob Harter, furniture store owner: “Unemployment is a very large problem. Right off the top of my head what angers me is that the U.S. supplies guns to the Mexican cartel, which interns torments their country, driving many individuals to America for a better life.. and taking jobs away from Americans. … this is craziness. Anyone would agree. Let us pump money into Mexico to stimulate their economy and thus that will stimulate ours. I am not too sure most Americans will take any job to make money, like many non-Americans do ie: dishwasher, lawn mower so drastic changes are needed. Any honest work should be congratulated. Americans are tortured with the influx of shows all about the rich and famous. Oftentimes our dreams are not obtainable. Our whole society needs to change if we are to change the unemployment. We need a push away from money money money, and start teaching that happiness comes from within and making your daily bread is enough. Until we understand the whole picture we can not change just a little part, because we are all interconnected and interrelated. The first step is go to our website and make a start in your own front lawn,”

Tobiah L. Pettus, unemployed: “Absolutely! Let’s attack San Diego’s unemployment issue with the initial objective being, to totally destroy the negative impressions of tourists that used to love visiting San Diego, but now feel that San Diego is unsafe and dirty and don’t want to come back.

I challenge us, as citizens of San Diego, to not find a homeless individual sleeping under a bridge, on a sidewalk or pan-handling on our streets. I challenge us, as citizens of San Diego, to not find cracks or potholes in our streets or a place that does not need fresh paint. I challenge us, as citizens of San Diego, to find an area that is clear of garbage. This is our current reality, NOT our vision of “America’s Finest City”!

Let’s breathe life into our ideal vision of “America’s Finest City”. A city with no litter anywhere, where every road is brand new, where no homeless individual is found on the streets, where the police are respected. This is our vision for San Diego, “America’s Finest City.” This is the environment in which we want to live. Together, we will strive to create this ideal environment for job creation.

Simultaneously, we will rekindle the possibility of the American Dream, with dramatic reductions in Developmental Services’ fees, coupled with building permits issued in under 2 weeks. San Diego must be made new, it must grow, it must prosper, it must BOOM in order to bring restoration. San Diego must not wait for economic recovery, we will force the lead.

We will remove regulations, red tape and fees that stand in the way of growth for our businesses, our city’s customers. We must also attract their satellite businesses to San Diego. We will strive to increase defense spending, international trade, high tech manufacturing, research, and innovation in San Diego.

Our annual budget is $2,746,478,704.00. Virtually nothing is allocated for the homeless, for our roads, or for litter removal. We will redirect our city’s resources, we will return to basics, we will drive our economy forward! San Diego is “America’s Finest City”! Believe it! Live it! Own it!”

Scott Wilson, businessman

“Pretty much every issue in San Diego is a role for the mayor to attack or put a team together to attack! I would propose unbanning the alcohol on the beaches and parks, and initiating my alcohol permits idea! This idea will bring in money for the city, along with creating and adding to many new jobs, mostly in these fields, police, fire, life guards, parks and recreation, hotels, restaurants, and other various businesses along the coast and parks. Also the money earned by this idea that is given back to the city can go to any number of funds for any one of our cities issues.”

Four other declared contestants didn’t answer our inquiry. Toby Lewandoski failed to respond to emails and voice mail message, while David Cardon didn’t return calls. Sharam Adhami did not respond because he had been out of town. Bradley Slavens said he hadn’t committed to run.

Lamii Kpargoi is an international fellow working with He will be working on elections issues and media best practices in community relations. You can reach him directly at and 619.550.5671.

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