Let me state this as clearly as I possibly can: Sherri Lightner will make a great Council president.

I have watched in amazement over the last few days as anger and even hatred have colored many online comments and social media posts related to Lightner’s election. These comments are disingenuous, self-serving and wrong.

The political alliances and maneuvering that got Lightner elected Council president are no stranger or more shocking than what we’ve seen play out in numerous primaries and elections.

Regardless of how she got the votes, Lightner is now our Council president. She is qualified, capable and has proven that she can do this job. My relationship and experiences working with her give me great confidence in that.

A few years ago, then-Council President Tony Young appointed Lightner to chair the city’s economic development and rules committee. Since I am responsible for running the region’s largest economic development organization, I thought it would be important to craft a strong working relationship with Lightner and her team.

I began setting up regular meetings for us to brief her on our goals and priorities. We wanted to ensure that we were aligning our work with hers and supporting the agenda of the committee she chaired. We would receive similar updates from her staff and found ourselves collaborating often.

As we started to work more closely with Lightner, we learned of her impressive engineering and business background, her passion for both youth employment and STEM education programs and her sincere interest in promoting our binational economy.

Lightner became a champion for our National Manufacturing Day activities, an avid supporter of San Diego’s Science and Engineering Festival and a lead advocate for our region’s Connect 2 Careers Summer Jobs Program.

Soon, Lightner and I started meeting every two weeks to talk about the various political issues impacting our region’s economic growth and development. We disagreed often and found ourselves on opposite sides of issues like the affordable housing fee and minimum wage. We respectfully shared our opinions and perspectives with each other and thought about various options for finding compromise and common ground.

Over the last three years I have learned a lot about Lightner. Though she is incredibly smart, she can struggle publicly to articulate her positions and opinions. She is more comfortable in Council or committee meetings talking about issues and taking action than she is standing at podiums making speeches. She cares deeply about San Diego and takes her service and commitment to her constituents very seriously. She is organized, responsible, inquisitive and quirky. She is a good and effective Council member and she is a great person.

I have seen Lightner run meetings and set agendas. I’ve worked with her, collaborated with her and argued with her. I know how she thinks, I know what she believes in and I have always known where she stands.

I’m sending my sincere congratulations to my friend and colleague Todd Gloria for an outstanding run as interim mayor and Council president. The city owes you a debt of gratitude. But now, as Lightner takes on this new role, I am proud to stand by her.

Mark Cafferty is president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. Cafferty’s note has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

Catherine Green

Catherine Green was formerly the deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handled daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects.

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