San Diego has been lodged in a suicidal financial situation for nearly a decade and the time has come for a serious leader who will navigate our way out of it. Progress has been made, but the job is far from complete. Choosing this leader is not about being a Republican, Democrat or independent. Nor is it about being male or female, gay or straight. The issue before us is to determine which mayoral candidate has the characteristics to be the transformational and visionary leader San Diego needs. In the five categories below, Carl DeMaio has decisively proven he is that leader.

Courage: Proposition D, the proposed $500 million sales-tax initiative of 2010, was the smoking gun of evidence that San Diego’s political leadership, backed by the business establishment and labor unions, had formed a powerful political triumvirate in order to hoodwink the taxpayers into paying for their gross fiscal mismanagement and negligence. DeMaio stood up claiming this was outrageous, fought Prop. D tooth and nail, and the voters listened and crushed it on Election Day. Without DeMaio’s leadership and courage, we’d surely be paying this shakedown tax today.

Determination: Does anyone believe we would have pension reform in San Diego without Carl DeMaio? The Proposition B pension reform initiative of 2012 was sponsored by Mayor Jerry Sanders, City Councilmen Carl DeMaio and Kevin Faulconer, but DeMaio was the primary author as well as the driving force in gathering the 116,000 signatures necessary to qualify it for the ballot. This was the largest signature drive in San Diego history and DeMaio was not just talking, he was leading by example in front of grocery stores, walking house to house, and even contributing large sums of his personal savings. DeMaio’s determination propelled Prop. B to a landslide victory and San Diego is now finally enacting the pension reforms necessary to save our city from insolvency. (Note that runaway pension liabilities have prompted scores of recent municipal bankruptcies including Stockton, San Bernardino, Mammoth Lakes, Harrisburg, Pa., Central Falls, R.I., and Jefferson County in Alabama.)

Applicable Experience: Contrary to popular belief, it is not the government or the large multinational corporations that drive job growth; it is the small- to mid-size employers. DeMaio is the only mayoral candidate with private sector business experience, having founded and operated two successful businesses that employed more than 65 people. San Diego needs jobs and it will help to have a mayor with firsthand experience. The last thing we need is another career politician espousing collegiate theories about how jobs are created.

Intellectual Curiosity: Public relations legend Dave Nuffer and I first met with DeMaio in 2008 to discuss the City of Life, a bold civic effort to reinvigorate San Diego’s image. Though we already had significant support from prominent community leaders such as Malin Burnham, Herb Klein, Steve Francis, Bob Witty, Joe Panetta, Nicole Murray-Ramirez, Mark Fabiani and many others, the majority of our elected leaders showed only superficial interest, primarily as to how it might affect them. DeMaio, on the other hand, demonstrated a true intellectual curiosity from the get-go about what we were trying to accomplish for San Diego. There was nothing in it for him, neither money nor votes, yet he listened and engaged anyway. Subsequently we met with DeMaio many times over the years and this interaction proved quite productive. More recently, DeMaio asked me to host an “Arts & Culture Discussion” with art community leaders so he could engage and understand their primary issues of concern. In both experiences, Carl exhibited an intellectual curiosity and a willingness to listen and learn. This approach is rare and refreshing in the political arena, and an admirable foundation for making thoughtful decisions. (For those who believe otherwise about DeMaio based on hearsay, I recommend you talk with him yourself and draw your own conclusions.)

Vision: DeMaio’s vision for San Diego is available for all to see in his A Roadmap to Recovery that details a five-year financial recovery plan, along with his Pathway to Prosperity plan and Save Our Streets Action Plan. DeMaio has detailed exactly where he wants to take San Diego, and after watching his efforts with Prop. D and Prop. B, he has proven himself to be true to his word.

There is serious work to be done and we need to come together to save our city and begin moving forward again. Both mayoral candidates are honorable men with good intentions and we thank each for their devoted service to our community. However, in this election there is only one candidate with the necessary courage, determination, applicable experience, intellectual curiosity and vision to bring San Diego back to life — Carl DeMaio.

George Mullen is an artist, writer and occasional economist with in downtown San Diego. He is a San Diego native, independent voter, and welcomes feedback at

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Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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