City Council President Tony Young has chosen his side in San Diego’s mayoral race.
The representative of the city’s fourth district, regarded as a nonpartisan pragmatist, endorsed fellow Democrat Rep. Bob Filner Tuesday, but not before he used his endorsement as a carrot to entice the candidates into pursuing certain policies.
Young said he made his decision after attending at least 10 different debates, listening to the candidates' policy ideas, and talking to his constituents about who best represented their interests.
“I have come to the conclusion that he is not only the best choice for me and for my constituents, but in the end is the best-suited person to serve as San Diego’s next mayor,” Young said.
Young previously appeared with both Filner and his Republican opponent, Councilman Carl DeMaio, in support of education-related proposals the candidates had offered.
Prior to announcing his endorsement, Young said he was withholding it as leverage to drive the mayoral campaign to issues he deemed important.
Young also in mid-September introduced a city ordinance that defined the balance of powers between the mayor and City Council as the city continued to adapt to its strong mayor-strong council form of government. The 10 principles had been practiced by the current City Council and Mayor Jerry Sanders, but Young’s ordinance made them permanent.
The ordinance passed Monday with DeMaio’s vote and Filner’s support.
At the endorsement announcement, Young thanked Filner for his support, and Filner said he was impressed that Young had arrived at the processes without a model to follow.
But Young said his endorsement also partially came down to who had the best plan to improve opportunities for city students.
Filner released his education plan last month with Young standing alongside him. It called for an increase in public-private partnerships for youth training, expansion of internships in city government, additional funding for libraries and parks and recreation centers, and free fares on public transportation for students going to or from school.
DeMaio announced his education plan two weeks ago, accompanied by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who finished in fourth place in the mayoral primary and has opted not to endorse either candidate despite sharing a political party with DeMaio. Her mayoral campaign was marked by a plan to increase the size of the San Diego Unified School District’s board to give the mayor’s office more leeway to pursue reform initiatives.
DeMaio’s plan calls for creating a “clean and safe schools task force” to combat crime, bullying and gang involvement, among other issues in school safety. It would also restore afterschool programs and expand the city’s police department resources within the school district.
By endorsing Filner’s campaign Tuesday, Young removed himself from the circle of remaining high-profile San Diego politicians who had yet to publicly support one of the candidates, notably former primary candidates Dumanis and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher.
Young said he had worked with Filner to improve the lives of District 4 residents on various projects, such as the new Skyline Library, since he was a chief of staff in the district, and the Congressman had demonstrated an ability to get things done.
“He has brought people together,” he said.
Filner and Young also minimized the role DeMaio -- who has billed himself as a reformer who, along with Sanders is largely responsible for the city’s improved outlook over the last few years -- played in improving the city’s fiscal outlook.
Young pointed out that it was a Democrat-led council, with him controlling the docket, that pushed through all of the city’s recent reforms.
DeMaio, in the past, has said he bypassed the traditional power structure by bringing issues like pension reform and competitive bidding to the public with citizen initiatives.
“Let’s put the mantle where it belongs, on Tony Young and the rest of the council,” Filner said.
DeMaio released a brief response reacting to the announcement.
"I've enjoyed working with Tony Young on bipartisan solutions for San Diego on the City Council and look forward to collaborating with him as Mayor," he said.