San Diego’s four major mayoral candidates have broad jobs ideas. To help you understand what they’re proposing, we’ve defined their plans, explained their key ideas and called out potential weaknesses in a series of posts. See our posts on Carl DeMaio, Bonnie Dumanis, Nathan Fletcher and our introduction.

The Candidate: Bob Filner

The Word: Port

The centerpiece of Bob Filner’s economic strategy is greater maritime commerce at the Unified Port of San Diego.

“Our port is the single most underutilized potential for mass employment of people in the skilled working category, those middle-level jobs that aren’t high-tech or service,” Filner said in an interview.

His proposal, though, also could be the single most difficult of any of the candidates’ to pull off. Economic, environmental and bureaucratic concerns represent massive barriers to any sort of major expansion.

The Ideas: Currently, San Diego has what’s considered a niche port with a good amount of automobiles, bananas and wind turbines coming through, but far less traffic and heavy industry than behemoth ports at Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Filner doesn’t have details for how he’ll grow the port’s business. Like on every other big ticket issue, he’s the only major candidate not to put any of his jobs ideas in writing. Details, he said, are what he’ll work out when he’s mayor.

“We built Mission Bay. We built Harbor Island. We built Shelter Island. C’mon,” Filner said. “To create 3,000 linear feet of berthing space? We can do this. That’s what I want to do. Create the environment where once you have that infrastructure and a will, then people start figuring out how to bring in ships.”

Filner also wants to improve border infrastructure to have better commerce with Mexico and install solar panels on city and school government buildings to spur job growth in that sector.

The Weaknesses: For his port plan to work, Filner has lots of problems to solve. The first would be actually presenting a formal plan. Implementing anything with a large economic effect would be a tall order.

Residents in the city’s waterfront Barrio Logan neighborhood are pushing for greater housing so they likely won’t look kindly at semi-trucks belching through their streets as they transport goods from the port. Neither will environmentalists, who make up a key component of Filner’s core Democratic constituency. More maritime development also could mean more cranes and heavy machinery dotting the region’s skyline along the bay. The port is its own separate government and bureaucracy, and the other bayfront cities appoint a majority of the port’s board.

This is all before you get to the huge question of the project’s eventual cost.

Next up: Nathan Fletcher

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for He covers San Diego City Hall, the 2012 mayor’s race and big building projects. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at or 619.550.5663.

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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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