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The Carl Demaio Mayoral Campaign Focuses on Budget Reform

by Chelsea Perera, published

In a recent poll, San Diego’s Republican candidate for mayor, Carl Demaio, trails amongst local voters. Pension reform serves as the highlight issue of Carl Demaio's mayoral campaign. He promotes his run for office with the modest slogan “Clean Up City Hall.”

The current city council member and Georgetown graduate worked for the Congressional Council as Director of Planning before starting a career as a successful businessman. His businesses, both training institutes, provided training for government official and corporate financiers. Demaio’s focus in terms of his political career, however, has undoubtedly been in the forum of financial reform. His first major role in fiscal reform was with the Citizen’s Budget Project, a committee assembled to repair California’s state budget in the wake of former governor Gray Davis’ massive state deficit increase and his own subsequent recall.

Once proclaiming himself a “government budget freak,” the mayoral hopeful seemed to be hooked on government spending issues ever since conducting a study of the San Diego’s own city budget in 2003. The 2003 study revealed “widespread waste” and became the first of three budget reform plans, including the pension reform plan that serves as the focus of  Carl Demaio's mayoral campaign.

The follow up to Carl Demaio’s pension reform plan, a proposal to spur city wide economic growth, titled features true to Demaio form. This includes several proposals reliant on regulatory reform in everything from “union-only policies” to mandates preventing the use of clean energy. Demaio's plan, in contrast to the 90 page quantitatively heavy pension reform proposal, attempts to attract the average San Diegan to Carl Demaio’s mayoral campaign. It features several spotlights on various local small business owners and profiles each individual member of the city’s job task force.

Despite a markedly unglamorous campaign, the candidate is often teased for his near obsession with the city’s potholes (he has his own lengthy proposal), Carl Demaio’s highly detailed reform plans and unofficial title of “taxpayer watchdog” reflects an attractive ideal of frugality. This becomes especially attractive in a crucial, if not dismal, period in local and national spending.

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