Mayor Bob Filner, members of San Diego’s City Council and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith officially took over the reins on Monday at an inauguration ceremony in Balboa Park. The recently elected public officials stepped into their roles after taking an oath of office in front of a few hundred attendees, including dignitaries from across the state and neighboring Mexico.
Filner, now the 35th mayor of America’s Finest City, was joined in the limelight by Goldsmith and re-elected council members Sherri Lightner, Todd Gloria and Marti Emerald, as well as new members Mark Kersey and Scott Sherman.
Together with council members David Alvarez, Lori Zapf, Kevin Faulconer and outgoing Council President Tony Young, this marks the first time ever that the city has a Democratic mayor and Democratic City Council. This may not last long as Young is leaving the council in January to become CEO of the local chapter of the American Red Cross, creating a partisan split until a special election is held to fill his seat.
Defeated mayoral contender and now former Councilman Carl DeMaio was also present, as was exiting Mayor Jerry Sanders.
In formally accepting his role as mayor and being sworn into office by State Controller John Chiang, Filner thanked his supporters and outlined his main priorities for the city. Along with his campaign staples of prioritizing neighborhoods, making public buildings solar-powered and focusing on public facilities and workers, Filner also discussed his plans for the economy.
“A healthy economy is obviously important to our quality of life,” Filner said. “And we’re going to seize every opportunity to grow that economy. We’re going to expand the Convention Center to strengthen our visitor industry. We’re going to support our military bases and defense industries in the face of threats from federal cutbacks. We’re going to make sure that the Chargers stay in San Diego. We’re going to have a wonderful celebration of the crown jewel in which we sit now, as we celebrate Balboa Park’s centennial anniversary in 2015.”
Filner also mentioned adding 50,000 jobs from the planned Port expansion, making the city more bike and pedestrian friendly, working closely with Baja California officials through a new Border Affairs Office in Tijuana and streamlining the regulatory process to create timely, predictable responses from the city.
In his final speech as mayor, Sanders congratulated and encouraged Filner in his new endeavor, but made it clear that the position is no cake walk.
“Today begins a new chapter in San Diego, and I’m happy for that new beginning,” Sanders said. “In fact, I believe the two happiest days in a mayor’s life are the day he takes office, and the day he leaves office. And having been through what Bob is about to go through, trust me, I’m the happier man.”
The “new chapter” theme rang true throughout the ceremony, with Filner and the inaugurated council members heralding a “new day” for San Diego, with the bankruptcy woes of years past finally in the rearview mirror thanks in large part to Sanders’ work.
“Jerry, I want to thank you,” said Emerald, councilwoman of the newly created District 9. “Because after more than a decade of scandals and financial storms, the clouds are beginning to part, revealing San Diego’s brilliant, brilliant potential, and I think all of us have you to thank for your determination.”
Though the swearing-in was filled with cake, excited and joyous onlookers, and music from the Marine Corps and students from the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, the party didn’t last long for everyone. While Mayor Filner planned to travel around the county hosting five inaugural celebrations throughout the day, the new City Council met a few hours after the ceremony to get down to business. On the agenda: voting on a new council president to replace Young. It was announced Monday afternoon that the City Council unanimously chose Gloria as the council's new president.