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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?

My visionary ideas are aimed at strengthening the desirability for new companies to move to the region, which will help offset job losses as more and more manufacturing jobs leave our shores.

One major vision that BIOCOM has been working toward is to help make San Diego a financial center for the Pacific Rim. There is a tremendous amount of new therapeutics and technologies being developed at the dozens of research institutes on the Torrey Pines Mesa. There is so much good R&D that our local contingent of bankers can't always fund all of the opportunities worth funding. We need to do everything possible to make San Diego a center for investors, because studies show that they are more likely to invest in companies close to their offices. This will help build San Diego's life science community, bring more advanced new therapeutics to market, and keep San Diego on the cutting edge of the knowledge-based economy.

For San Diego to be an easier place to live, I'd like to see a major public transportation system that makes it easy to travel from one end of the county to another, helping seriously limit the amount of traffic we have to face. Our current system has grown by leaps and bounds, and I'm excited about the Trolley's eastward expansion, but it would be fantastic to have a system that would make it easier and faster to use public transportation to get everywhere in the county than to jump into your car.

Finally, I'd like to see the city make a strong effort to support cultural development, highlighted by an effort to build a world-class arts center, something like the Sydney Opera House, which would become a culture cornerstone for our community. While buildings like a downtown library and the new ballpark are essential to revitalizing our city, an artistic attraction like this would go along way to making San Diego known for its artistic endeavors, and help solidify our region's already strong arts community.

-- Joe Panetta

President and CEO, BIOCOM

The first challenge facing the new mayor is organizing city government in a fashion that ensures that the broadest possible public interest is served. Unless this is accomplished, either by Dona Frye or Jerry Sanders, under the strong mayor mandate all self-proclaimed "visionary" acts will be utterly irrelevant. If either Frye or Sanders botches the changes required, people of vision will be blinded by the darkness that descends upon our town. Darker than now? Yes, darker than now.

Both candidates have an obligation to tell us the truth. Tell us what we must do to help them succeed. Oh, did I say "we"? Yes, because neither one of them has the skills necessary to get this done alone. We need an inclusive government, one that tells the truth about the mess we're in, and how, with our help, we can help them fix it. They're not getting this done without involving us -- all of us.

Under the best circumstances we have tough 10 years ahead of us before we get out of the situation we're in. Strong mayor, strong council leadership will tell is that. We need, therefore, the new mayor and council to be open, honest, and accountable -- and, if they're not, then we need to remove them from public office, one by one.

Is that "visionary?" No, but it's the truth.

-- George Mitrovich

President of The City Club of San Diego

We need a mayor with a vision that improves our quality of life. We need a mayor whose vision communicates a clear goal that San Diego is a place to do business. A city where ideas can be realized and where its citizens can have the tools they need to raise their families. A city where our quality of life is the envy of every person of every city in the United States. By fostering a climate in which any industry, whether business, tourism or technology can thrive, we will provide the citizens of San Diego with a quality of life that is second to none.

Raising our quality of life will require a mayor who can attract to San Diego the type of companies and industries that will provide our citizens with high-paying jobs and abundant career opportunities. Our next mayor must be committed to building and creating a climate that will foster the entrepreneurial spirit of San Diego.

We need a mayor who's vision will significantly reduce the cost of government by allowing the private sector the opportunity to compete against the government sector in providing services that will save money and improve services.

None of these things will be possible, however, unless our next mayor is willing to ask for the peoples' trust and show real leadership. This vision must include implementation of stricter business ethics and doing what the corporate community has done with Sarbanes-Oxley. Being a leader means taking risks and doing what is sometimes unpopular, but equally necessary in order to protect the greater good of the community. Our next mayor must work diligently to rebuild that trust and govern not just by policy and programs, but by principles and conviction. Achieving all of these goals will require bold and visionary leadership.

-- Steven Francis

CEO & President, AMN Healthcare Services, 2005 board of directors member, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation

Complete Coverage: Sounding Board

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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