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Fletcher outlines jobs plan during speech at Gen-Probe

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State Assemblyman and mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher summarized his plans to improve San Diego at the biotech company Gen-Probe on Tuesday, continuing his campaign's focus on technology companies as an answer to San Diego's economic woes.

Fletcher was introduced by Brian Hansen, Gen-Probe's president for Americas and Asia Pacific, and the basketball player and community activist Bill Walton, who has endorsed Fletcher's candidacy for mayor.

"Nathan's story is really the story of Gen-Probe," Walton said. "Much like Gen-Probe at the beginning when people would look around and say, 'That'll never work, you guys will never get this done,' Nathan Fletcher has faced some of that same opposition."

Fletcher reminded the 50 or so Gen-Probe employees who gathered to watch him speak that he had announced his mayoral candidacy at another biotech, NuVasive. He said he would not consider announcing in front of City Hall, both because it's a "horribly ugly building" and because "it's not the story of what's right in San Diego."

Reviewing the main points of his jobs plan released last month, Fletcher told the crowd he would create 130,000 new jobs by 2020, increase the amount of venture capital investment in San Diego by 33 percent before 2020, increase the number of San Diego patents generated by 33 percent before 2020, increase San Diego exports by 33 percent before 2020 and increase the median household income by 33 percent before 2020.

He also cited specific goals, including increasing the number of San Diego research institutions from 81 to 100 and the number of incubators from 16 to 25.

All of these goals, he said, would change San Diego's slogan from "America's Finest City" to "America's Most Innovative City."

"When you travel and meet people and tell them you're from San Diego, I want them to say, 'I know San Diego, you're the world's most innovative city,'" Fletcher said.

"With really good weather," he added jokingly.

To achieve these goals, Fletcher said he would consolidate the city's economic development functions into one department; build the city's technology, military and tourism industries; build relationships with foreign countries like China and Mexico; and strengthen the city's education system. He also proposed modernizing the city's libraries, potentially by putting a Starbucks coffee shop inside each one.

"Our obligation is to put in place policies to ensure the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs makes San Diego their home," he said.

Fletcher called San Diego "a city where anyone can find success," before making his final pitch for himself as mayor.

"We are the American Dream embodied in a city. We're San Diego, the world's most innovative city, and I want to lead us into the next decade," he said.

Earlier Tuesday, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who is also running for mayor, said if elected, she would donate her annual mayoral salary after taxes to fund San Diego education programs. She also committed to not take a city pension.

As district attorney, Dumanis is entitled to at least a $249,600 yearly pension, the news organization Voice of San Diego has previously reported.

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