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He laid out his agenda as one of his last acts as acting mayor. And for the next 12 months, Councilman Todd Gloria’s to-do list not only set the political debate, it shaped what post-Filner discourse will look like in San Diego.
It wasn’t just “neighborhoods first,” but a progressive vision for San Diego organized around a few major issues. Two major elements of Gloria’s platform — raising the minimum wage and passing an aggressive plan to cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions — comprised San Diego’s biggest policy discussions.
He made the fight against income inequality the top issue for local progressives.
“The high cost of living, coupled with growing income inequality, is a threat to our ability to build a great city,” he said during his State of the City address. “San Diego must not be divided between the very wealthy and the very poor. A great city must have a vibrant and growing middle class.”
That change, and his agenda, drove the city’s policy discussions this year.
The next step is notching some permanent victories.
The Council under his leadership voted for a minimum wage hike, but the Chamber of Commerce and former Mayor Jerry Sanders led a coalition to strike it down. It’ll go before voters in June 2016 as a bellwether in the standoff between an ascendant progressive coalition and the city’s conservative establishment, and be the top issue in any race sharing the ballot.
The city’s plan to address climate change, which Gloria rescued from City Hall purgatory when he briefly took over the mayor’s office, is undergoing further analysis, but when Mayor Kevin Faulconer released his own draft, it included most of the major elements of Gloria’s bold version.
It’s worth noting, though, that a major piece of Gloria’s State of the City address continued to be a nonstarter in 2015. Gloria said it was time to prepare a $2 billion bond to repair the city’s shabby streets, sidewalks, storm drains and all the rest. To go to voters by 2016, the package needed to be put together now, he said. That didn’t happen. Despite his yeoman efforts to make streets sexy, they still aren’t a political priority.
This is part of our Voice of the Year package, profiling the people who drove the biggest conversations in San Diego this year. Check out the previous story, Jane Doe: A Voice for Victims, and the next, Lorena Gonzalez: The Voice of Workers and Woman (and Working Women).