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Fletcher accepts endorsement, announces energy plan

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After receiving the endorsement of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher on Wednesday used the occasion to unveil his energy plan for the city of San Diego.

The state assemblyman said his plan would reduce the city’s energy expenses by 25 percent by 2020, resulting in $85 million in savings to the city’s general fund and $210 million in cumulative savings by that time.

“Reducing energy expenses is not only good policy and is good for the budget, but it’s also good for the environment, and both of those will have great concern when I’m mayor,” he said.

The plan would include issuing two $100 million bonds to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, and those bonds would be paid for by the savings they generate.

Specific proposals in the plan include generating more energy by pushing the state to lift the net metering cap on large scale municipal power facilities, negotiate better utility rates with San Diego Gas & Electric, use so-called Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPC) to modernize building energy systems and implement a citywide computer system to monitor and control power generation, an Energy Management System (EMS).

Having already offered plans on education, the economy, clean water and infrastructure, Fletcher said policy outlines are useless unless you can work to get them done.

“San Diegans have a choice in this election between a candidate that represents the extreme far right, the extreme far left, and an independent voice that will just focus on moving us forward,” he said.

Fletcher announced he was leaving the Republican Party late last month only to see his support in the mayoral race double, according to one recent poll by SurveyUSA. He now polls just behind front-running City Councilman Carl DeMaio, and longtime Congressman Bob Filner, the race’s lone Democrat. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, also a Republican, was in last place.

Johnson, a Democrat, is the first major figure to endorse Fletcher since he left the Republican Party.

“I’m a Democrat and Nathan is not quite the Republican he used to be,” Johnson said. “People might be wondering if this is an odd endorsement, but I don’t think it’s odd by any stretch of the imagination.”

Johnson has taken a visible role in education reform, serving as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Education Reform Task Force and recently touring California to discuss the subject with education activist and former Washington, D.C. public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee.

One of the reasons for his endorsement is Fletcher’s commitment to education reform, Johnson said.

“He understands the preeminent importance of education, and that mayors do not have a choice and have to be involved in education in your city,” Johnson said. “As mayors, we’re on the front lines for things such as the business concerns of our community, the front lines of struggling neighborhoods, and front lines when it comes to high unemployment. There’s no way we can change or offset those issues unless we improve schools and our community.”

Dumanis has made education central to her campaign. At a recent debate she said she’d fix the school district by the end of her first term, and her “Framework for America’s Finest Schools” called for expanding the size of the district’s board by four mayoral appointees.

In March, she called for developing a regional “Educational Leadership Summit” while touting a recent meeting with Johnson in which she discussed his task force’s “Action Guide for Success,” which calls for mayors to take greater control of education by appointing additional board members.

Johnson said he considers Dumanis a “very credible candidate” as well.

“She’s going to do amazing things, whether it be as mayor or some other way,” he said. “I got a chance to sit down with her and we’re looking at our district attorney and what (Dumanis) was doing on some gang issues.”

Dumanis was not available for comment, but her campaign released a statement on Johnson’s endorsement of Fletcher.

"I'm focused on San Diego, not Sacramento,” the statement read. “I'm proud to have the endorsement of our own Mayor Jerry Sanders together with Republicans, Democrats and independents from across the city."

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