The Engineering and General Contractors Association announced it has endorsed City Councilman Carl DeMaio in his run for mayor of San Diego Tuesday.
The association, which represents general engineering contractors who work on roads, sewers and other infrastructure for both public and private work, said it picked DeMaio for his plan to improve local roads.
"He is the only candidate with in-depth knowledge and a clear cut plan to fix these problems," said Kyle Nelson, the president of Cass Construction and the EGCA.
Nelson said the endorsement was made solely because of DeMaio's work to improve infrastructure, and was not related to his fight against the city's use of project labor agreements. Nelson also said DeMaio's position on city construction projects, including the central library and a potential Chargers' stadium, was not taken into account.
"We're mainly focused on current infrastructure problems," Nelson said. "The main focus for our members is fixing roads."
While accepting his endorsement, DeMaio stood near the intersection of Adams Avenue and 54th Street, one of many parts of the city where roads are in disrepair, he said. He held up his "Save Our Streets," or "SOS," plan while he spoke.
"Our roads in the city of San Diego are in a complete state of disrepair," DeMaio said. "It's unacceptable that two-thirds of our roads are in disrepair. They are literally falling apart."
DeMaio said if elected mayor, he would make fixing roads and sidewalks his top priority.
"In the past, city leaders were so focused on fixing the pension hole that they overlooked the potholes," he said. "I will move money back where it needs to be."
DeMaio's "SOS" plan promises that within 24 months in the mayor's office, he would bring one-third of the city's roads up to standard, and within five years, he would fully fund infrastructure repairs.
"Other candidates say, 'yeah, I'll do a better job at fixing roads,' but I'm the only one with a detailed plan," DeMaio said.
But Amy Thoma, a spokeswoman for state Assemblyman and mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher, said DeMaio's acceptance of the EGCA's endorsement creates a conflict of interest.
"Carl claims that candidates shouldn't accept support from groups that have issues pending before city government because it creates a conflict," she said. "If that's the case, this most recent endorsement, and the numerous campaign contributions he has received from contractors with projects pending before the city, create one enormous conflict of interest for him. We call on him to put his money where his mouth is and return those contributions."
DeMaio said he would bring about improvements in part by changing the city's permit process.
"These projects are shovel ready," he said. "We can get these projects done."
"People who know road repair best have looked at my plan and my no-nonsense approach to being in the mayor's office," DeMaio added, referring to the EGCA. "I'm thrilled to have their support."