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Bob Filner and Carl DeMaio Make KUSI Debate Personal

by Blake Bunch, published
Carl DeMaio and Bob Filner debate at Politifest 2012. This was one of the nearly 40 debates this election season.

DeMaio Filner

Incumbent Congressman Bob Filner (D) and San Diego City Council member Carl DeMaio (R) met for the “thirtieth to fortieth” time on KUSI San Diego this past evening, October 29. Among the barrage of smear campaigns and hot button terminology, it could be difficult for an uninformed voter to sift through the mire nearly a week out from the election.

[Insert]: Filner ad trashing DeMaio for being in the pocket of special interest groups; and not voting substantively.

[Counter]: DeMaio spot prodding at Filner for his hot streak (his "passion for leadership"). Repeat at commercial break.

Current Mayor Jerry Sanders made an appearance on KUSI, saying the election season had been a "nasty" and "costly" one. When prompted for advice for the upcoming mayor, Sanders felt that the next mayor should be committed to budget issues, performance standards, regular updates, five year budget projections, the free flow of information, and labor issues.

The moderator for the debate was KUSI journalist Allen Denton, who kept both candidates within distance of each other, often cutting directly to the chase when they would start to stray off topic.

An hour long debate, IVN San Diego has cut through the mudslinging, and will focus on the stances of both candidates.

Topic: Pensions for City Employees

DeMaio: Stood by his stance of being a whistle blower for the pension problem at city hall, and how he reached across the aisle in doing so with the bi-partisan effort, Proposition B. He then spoke of his plan to counter the problems the city faced:

“We have an interim 401(k) plan that we are yet to finalize, but I will implement this plan in my first labor contract as mayor. The standard retirement age is fifty-five, but for police and firefighters it’s fifty. Under the previous plan, those employees would make more in the first year of retirement than they ever did during their highest salaried year.”

Filner:  Filner is a staunch opponent of Proposition B, though he said he would implement the proposition if elected. Filner added that the collapse of stock market was our biggest failure for pensions, and added that they would be able to bring the pay freeze as mayor.

“The pension proposition is costing $37 million a year. My plan requires a $1 billion pensionable pay freeze over five years, and with something like that, you have to negotiate with your employees, so it is public knowledge.”

Topic: The Economy

Filner: It is no secret that Filner favors the expansion of the port, where he feels to have been crucial in bringing more “fruit from Mexico, and cars from Japan.”  He also looks to have all public buildings operational utilizing solar power. He further extends the idea of a “blue economy”:

“In this economy, when people have confidence, other things will follow. During the recession in the nineties, we formed an ad-hoc city development program, which was the first of its kind. Take the technological, military, and green economies, built on energy conservation and alternative sources of energy, and add to it the ‘blue economy’ - based off Scripps and Seaworld research facilities. We would be the first major city to have an ‘aqua economy,’ with 50,000 high paying jobs by 2020.”

DeMaio: Looks to foster local business, as well as promote the city as a “destination city.” He further champions rebuilding the city’s infrastructure:

I’ve talked to young San Diegans, and they’re worried.  We need to: 1) Cut red tape for small startup businesses. 2) Prepare workers for a 21st century economy, placing an emphasis on K-12 and secondary education. 3) Invest in infrastructure – streets, new naval headquarters, and expand convention center. I laid this out in entirety in my 110 page plan the ‘Pathway to Prosperity. ”

When asked by Moderator Denton how they would streamline the permitting process at city Hall, Filner dodged the question, placing an accusation on DeMaio for being under the influence of special interest groups. The two then bickered for some time, until silenced by Denton.

Denton then asked both candidates what they would do about the loss of redevelopment funds for individual neighborhoods in San Diego.

Filner responded that he “wanted to ship as much as I can to neighborhood reinvestment.”  DeMaio  cited his “Roadmap to Recovery Plan,” which he says would give $497 million back to San Diego neighborhoods. He further added that budget reform and creating public-private partnerships would be necessary to revitalize the city.

Topic: Chargers’ Stadium ­– both candidates criticized the prior week's performance.

DeMaio: Believes private investors should be involved in construction of a possible stadium, as the city cannot afford it. DeMaio further promotes the idea of a multipurpose facility, as an expansion of the Convention Center:

“What I propose is a multipurpose location. We are a world class destination, and this facility should reflect that. This facility would be a multi-use, sustainable facility without any taxpayer subsidy.”

Filner:  The one thing the two candidates somewhat agreed on; Filner said, and has frequently said, that the Chargers were “extorting” the city.

Moderator Denton then posed the notion to Congressman Filner: “Does it make it different to go into a negotiation with the Chargers saying their extorting?”

“They work within a structure that they have an exemption of anti-trust responsibilities,” said Filner. “They’re extorting from us. That’s a fact.  We won’t allow that to happen again. I think the chargers want to stay, and have talked to them. You have to talk in an honest and tough way.”

Carl DeMaio responded that: “You can disagree, without being disagreeable.”

In his closing remarks, council member DeMaio asked a fundamental question: “Do we want to move forward on fiscal reform, or turn backwards?  We need a mayor that can champion jobs, and as a businessman, I will fight to do so.”

Congressman Filner made his closing remarks referencing his years in education and in politics, as well as promoting the city’s tourism and easing the strain of crossing the border."Why not have a city where neighborhoods come first?" concluded Filner. "A San Diego that benefits us all and not special interest."

These candidates are polar opposites, though both claim to want what's best for San Diego.  As the election nears, it is highly encouraged to research both candidates stances on one's own.  Just stay out of the mud.

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