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Sounding Board: Visionary Ideas

Daily Transcript Question: With the mayoral election at hand, San Diego is potentially on the brink of a new era of reform, rebuilding and redirection. Considering this a moment of extraordinary opportunity, what are your three best visionary ideas about the future of San Diego the next mayor should keep in mind as he or she prepares to govern the city?


Every city has problems, some greater than others. To revisit, criticize or second-guess what has taken place in San Diego is piling on. The next mayor of San Diego will have an unlimited number of challenges and opportunities, not the least of which is to quickly earning the trust and respect of its residents.

Practice civic engagement, this means the inclusion of every sector of your city when making critical decisions. Develop a penchant for openness when conducting the business of the public. Perceptions exceed reality. If some believe that you're beholding to special interests, campaign donors or friends, expect strong resistance in the implementation of your vision or plan to get your city on the correct path.

Never promise more than you can deliver. Avoid denial. Tell the truth, no matter whom it offends. Don't be impressed by the title or trappings of the office. Get your own coffee, tea or soft drink. Listen to your City Attorney.

Following these simple ground rules will make running the city a piece of cake.

-- Art Madrid

Mayor, La Mesa


No matter where you live, whether it's Oceanside, Escondido or Chula Vista, what happens at San Diego City Hall has an impact on every resident in San Diego County. The mayor and city of San Diego hold weighted voting positions on the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the regional planning and funding authority for transportation issues in our county. The city of San Diego's clout extends to the Regional Airport Authority where the mayor appoints one member of the three-person paid executive committee. In addition, a San Diego city councilman currently serves as a general member of the nine-person airport board.

Whenever there's a countywide emergency, especially brush fires, the resources of the city of San Diego are pressed into action. There are no city limits when it comes to saving lives and property. And, like it or not, the financial condition of the city of San Diego impacts decisions of business leaders who are considering either relocating to San Diego County or pulling up stakes and leaving.

The next mayor of San Diego needs to be a person who knows what it takes to be a chief executive officer -- a person with a clear plan and vision for the future, an understanding of city finances, business principles, and crisis management. That person needs to improve the working relationship between the city and county of San Diego. Besides having the courage to make tough decisions for taxpayers and not give in to special interest groups, this new mayor must also lead with compassion and honesty.

-- Bill Horn

County Supervisor


In the beginning there is the beginning, a chance for re-invention and thinking outside the box. The vision is to bring the excitement of optimism in the new mayor, an attitude of bringing the electorate together instead of constant confrontation and cynicism. This should be anchored in a series of town halls in different parts of town so that there is free expression.

And telecast on PBS, an announcement of a series of scholarships (funded by private donations) as prizes in a community-wide competition among school kids of every age, right up to colleges of architecture, for the most original ideas for solving the affordable housing crisis. Have the Urban Land Institute establish a panel of experts to come up with solutions about traffic and transportation, some of which can be immediately implemented (as L.A. did during their Olympics).

-- Sandy Goodkin

Co-founder and acting chairman of Civic Solutions


The new mayor will be faced with the immediate need of resolving the fiscal crisis that faces our city. This will include completing the audit to regain our creditability with Wall Street and improving our bond rating, gaining control of the pension program and internal management of city staff.

Secondly, we need to finalize the negotiations with the Chargers to the benefit of the citizens of San Diego while at the same time making it a good business investment for the Chargers. Our city needs to maintain a professional football team and become the Super Bowl city of choice.

Thirdly, we need to become a city government that is customer service driven. We need city departments to treat the public and vendors professionally. We need to speed up the permit process from everything from housing to special event permits.

-- Gary L. Powers

President/CEO, San Diego North Chamber of Commerce


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Have Your Voice Heard!

The Daily Transcript introduces Sounding Board, a regular opinion page feature focusing on current issues. Send your responses to soundingboard@sddt.com.

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