Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

When Mary Salas was a young girl growing up in Chula Vista, she saw workers building a power plant along the bay.

For the next five decades, the South Bay Power Plant – which originally burned fuel oil and eventually burned natural gas – ruined the city’s waters, its air and chances to develop a Bayfront to rival San Diego’s, Santa Monica’s or San Francisco’s.

In 2013, as a city councilwoman, Salas watched with joy as the plant was detonated. This year, as Chula Vista’s mayor, she finally inked what seems like a real deal to put a resort hotel and convention center on the Bayfront.

Such is the career of politicians, that it might take 60 years for anything to happen, but big things happened this year for Salas. She also helped pass a sales tax increase to fund public services, including firefighters and police.

By contrast, the mayor of San Diego – the city that sandwiches in Chula Vista to the north and south – tried to expand his own convention center and also raise taxes for public services. He failed to do either.

Salas’ victories weren’t without a price. The bond measure, Measure A, means consumers will be paying a half a cent more in sales taxes. The city, along with the Port of San Diego, also plan to pony up at least $573 million in subsidies to help build the Bayfront project.

But they are a sign of a mayor getting things done.

This is part of our 2018 Voice of the Year list, profiling the people who kick-started San Diego’s biggest civic discussions over the past year.

Ry Rivard was formerly a reporter for Voice of San Diego. He wrote about water and power.

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