During the mayoral campaign, Bob Filner earned a reputation as a rambler. He didn’t always make a whole lot of sense. His sharpest moments often came in acts of comedy.

Tuesday night, though, the historian in Filner captured an important movement in San Diego’s civic life clearer and simpler than anyone I’ve heard before.

This city has changed demographically. It has changed business-wise. It has changed with the kind of people and the way they look at the world. They want a liveable, bikeable, walkable city. But the political structure has not kept up.

Now, it’s difficult to argue that Filner has also kept up with all of those changes. Considering those demographics were glaringly on his side, his margin of victory was remarkably thin.

There are a lot of things the Filner era could be remembered for in San Diego history by the time it’s done. Petty squabbling. Scandal. War with Orange County.

But here’s to hoping that it’s remembered for Filner grabbing on tight to that notion he found on election night — “They want a liveable, bikeable, walkable city. But the political structure has not kept up.” — and making it his legacy.

I’m Andrew Donohue, contributing editor and a John S. Knight fellow at Stanford University working on innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership in journalism. I served as VOSD’s editor from 2005 to 2012. You can reach me at andrew.donohue@voiceofsandiego.org.

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