Journalism won’t die if you donate. Support Voice of San Diego today!

Mayor Jerry Sanders was elected to office in San Diego in 2005 with the pledge to fix the city’s financial woes and stabilize it for future generations.

As the city’s former police chief comes to the end of his tenure as chief executive, the political and organizational chaos he inherited has calmed. Still, financial problems continued to dog San Diego.

The city’s website also outlines Sanders’ achievements since his ascendency as the city’s chief executive. Despite his progress in some areas, the city’s roads and other infrastructure continue to decay, and its daily budget suffers from annual deficits.

While the jury is still out on Sanders’ successes through his years in office, VOSD this week asked another jury of sorts — San Diego’s declared mayoral candidates — to evaluate the current mayor’s tenure. The following questions were put to them:

“What do you think about the job Jerry Sanders has done as mayor? Do you believe he will have fixed the city’s financial problems by the time the next mayor takes office?”

See their responses here:

Carl DeMaio, city councilman:

Mayor Sanders came into office in the middle of a major financial crisis in the City. That crisis was further complicated by a switch to a new form of government, federal investigations hanging over the city, and the onset of a severe economic recession. The fact that Mayor Sanders kept the lights on is commendable.

But there is much more still to be done. We must fix the financial problems and get our neighborhood services and infrastructure repairs back on track. We must also change the culture at City Hall to treat citizens as customers and help businesses succeed so San Diegans can land jobs.

That’s why I’m running for Mayor — to bring a business perspective and performance-oriented approach to finishing the job of reforming city finances.

More importantly, I’m not waiting to be Mayor to achieve many of the reforms. That’s why I appreciate Mayor Sanders joining with me to place our Comprehensive Pension Reform Ballot Measure up for a vote in the June 2012 election.

Bonnie Dumanis, district attorney:

Mayor Sanders has provided great leadership and helped guide our city through a massive financial crisis. In the course of doing so he’s made big changes necessary to help stabilize the city and get San Diego back on track.

But we all know San Diego is still struggling financially and we need an innovative, creative, out of the box thinker with a proven track record to finish the job. By this time next year we could have a new pension system on the books which will help erase the city’s $2 billion unfunded pension liability, if we have a Mayor that can hit the ground running and implement it correctly.

We will still have a massive deferred maintenance backlog and the glacial pace of implementing the city’s managed competition system will mean the day-to-day operating costs for City government will still be too high. Our next mayor must be committed to rebuilding the city’s infrastructure, reducing costs, and holding the line on taxes. Mayor Sanders has laid a foundation for reform and financial stability — as San Diego’s next Mayor I’ll build on that foundation with a fresh perspective and commitment to changing the culture at City Hall.

Bob Filner, congressman:

The congressman did not respond.

Nathan Fletcher, assemblyman:

Jerry Sanders was the right mayor to restore stability at City Hall. He has worked diligently to close the structural budget deficit, address the city’s pension liability, and begin the process of managed competition for appropriate city services. Because of the progress he has made in these areas, the next mayor will have a very different job.

For nearly a decade, city government has been looking in the rearview mirror and focused on fixing problems of the past. The next Mayor has the opportunity to move beyond those problems, the polarization and finger pointing, to a more forward-looking, collaborative approach. This will take a new generation of leadership with a new energy, vision, and new ideas.

That new approach must move beyond the tired arguments and excuses of the past. It most move beyond the divisive nature that has defined the last decade and usher in a new era that focuses on building coalitions to get things done. I am running for mayor because I know how to build coalitions and bring people together. I’ve demonstrated the ability to lead and represent the opportunity to have a fresh start. I’m not tied to the status quo or problems of the past and will redefine San Diego as the “World’s Most Innovative City.”

David Cardon, real estate broker:

I feel that Mayor Sanders did a good job on his first term, however on his second term I feel that he has lost focus. Attention to decaying infrastructure has been overlooked or road blocked by bureaucratic red tape. ALL departments must be re-evaluated to ensure proper funding & staffing is being directed as needed, as well as compliance with regulations and training. I feel that the City’s financial troubles will not be remedied by the time a new mayor takes office.

Hud Collins, trial attorney:

As a San Diegan, I am proud of the job Mayor Jerry Sanders has done. Between the City Council (who have the legislative powers) and the city administration’s policies; the result sought that the city is in the financial emergency crisis. The problems will not be solved by the end of the mayor’s term. You have a council/mayor with no plan, a runaway pension (could be argued to be a Ponzi scheme) deficit and out -of-control arc payment (one third of the general fund). Budget deficits for this fiscal year between $30 – $50 million. City services at approximately 32% of 2011 levels and going down. Most all politicians including Jerry Sanders, Councilmembers Faulconer, DeMaio, and Zapf and oher entities – all backing the CPR (substantively and procedurally, the CPR is a loser). Instead, they should be debates in the city on a full plan being developed and immediate action to solve the problems. No audit opinion confirmation yet (11 months late); no CAFR, no ability for bonds, etc. Not only will the city’s financial problems not be fixed; the mayor/council is not dressing the immediate concerns — people living in the streets and begging on every corner. That’s disgraceful in America’s finest city!

Sunny O. Enyoghwerho, businessman:

Frankly speaking, Mayor Jerry Sanders has not done anything substantial since he took over the office as a Mayor of San Diego. All our infrastructures are bad. There are many potholes on our streets. For the past seven years in the office, he was unable to fix the city’s financial problem. By now, he should have fixed the problem. There are so many things that he failed to do. The Chargers’ situation is unresolved, neither the Stadium. To add insult to the injury, he brought a contractor from New York to come and tell him how much it would cost to build a new Stadium. This contractor presented him with a bill of $172,000.00. This is a waste of taxpayers’ money. He has not done anything to create jobs in the city. There is no reason why unemployment in San Diego should be 9 percent. There is no provision made for our youths on the street. Our schools are falling apart because they are underfunded. Mayor Jerry Sanders’ total performance is unsatisfactory in my book, he could have done better.

Steve Greenwald, compassionate physician, businessman, and civic activist:

I believe the present mayor, Saunders has done a good job however I do not believe he will solve our prosperity/pension/and unemployment and underemployment challenges.

Tobiah Pettus, manager, commercial construction:

America’s National Debt is $15,047,912,000,000 and climbing by the second ( California’s debt is $372,515,790,000. As San Diegan’s, we are in serious financial trouble on the National and State levels. We all know this. We are terrified.

Stop. We are Americans. Stand strong. Stand proud. Our best days are before us. We will overcome. Our future is bright. Do not allow panic and fear to grip your hearts. Do not allow your emotions to be manipulated. On the City level, the City of San Diego is very strong and is in fantastic shape. Mayor Jerry Sanders has brought us through the recession virtually unscathed and has done an incredible job financially. Our structural deficit is only 2.06%! And this should be reconciled by the time the next Mayor takes office. The Budget is balanced! We do not need to throw current city employees under the bus, as part of Comprehensive Pension Reform. Especially, when there is no guarantee the savings will even occur.

Join me in creating a city without homeless people on the streets, where the roads are brand new and where there is no litter to be seen. We will force the lead towards total economic recovery.

Scott Wilson, businessman:

People regularly want to lay the blame for financial woes on one leader, to make the problem seem simpler than it is. I think it will take several more years to remedy our current financial woes, and Sanders has done an excellent job during a difficult financial time. I believe a good step toward fixing this city’s financial problem is by implementing my Alcohol Initiative. You can see data on this at This Initiative will bring millions of dollars in revenue to our city.

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.

Like VOSD on Facebook.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.