By Margie M. Palmer | SDUN Reporter
Approximately 150 people attended a debate between Congressmember Bob Filner and Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher at the Kensington Community Church on May 17. Sponsored by the Kensington Talmadge Planning Group (Ken-Tal), the forum allowed two of the city’s four mayoral hopefuls to square off in debate and answer questions relating to their plans, visions and hopes for San Diego.
The race’s two other candidates, Councilmember Carl DeMaio and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, were invited but unable to attend.
The debate topics primarily covered the candidates’ histories and the potential relationship between the mayor’s office and the City Council, as well as education and the economy.
During the debate, Filner highlighted his years in politics and legislation.
“There is not anyone else in this election who has the experience or the background I have,” Filner said. “I have served on the San Diego Unified School District School Board, was elected to serve on the San Diego City Council and was elected to Congress after that,” adding, “for me, public office is about public service.”
Fletcher opened with a statement of his independence and willingness to work with people of all political backgrounds and affiliations.
“Last week the Democrats sent out a mailer with a photo of me standing with John McCain, saying, ‘You can’t trust him, he stands with Republicans.’ That same day the Republicans sent out a mailer with a photo of me standing alongside Jerry Brown, saying, ‘You can’t trust him, he stands with Democrats,’” Fletcher said. “The bottom line is, I’ll stand with anyone if you have a good idea.”
Fletcher also discussed his military service, saying his experience as an active duty Marine would help him be an effective leader if elected to serve as the city’s mayor.
“I served my country in the military and I learned about leadership, and what a real crisis is,” he said.
Using the passage of Chelsea’s Law as an example, Fletcher said, “I like taking problems, finding solutions, building coalitions and getting things done. I have a real vision for our city and I think I’m the right mayor at the right time to help give this city a fresh start into the future.”
Chelsea’s Law states that those convicted of certain sex offenses against a child in California will get life in prison without parole, and was signed into law September 2010. The law was named after Chelsea King, the 17-year-old Poway, Calif. teenager abducted and murdered in February 2010.
Both candidates emphasized a willingness to work with the City Council to get things done, yet promised to stand strong and not compromise principles or core values in doing so.
“You need to have the personal relationships but you also need to have strong ideas,” Filner said.
“All politics are personal and getting things done is about the personal relationships you build,” Fletcher said. “Those relationships are how I was able to gain support for the passage of Chelsea’s Law.”
They also spoke of their ideas to improve city schools and expand educational opportunities for San Diego’s youth.
“The city has incredible resources to help our kids, but no one is motivated to use them to help the kids,” Filner said. “We have the Navy and senior centers, and the museums at Balboa Park. If everyone took some responsibility we could keep kids busy and keep them learning after school.”
Fletcher said that today’s children play an integral role in the city’s economic future. “In order to build the economy of the future we need to build on education today,” he said. “Every child needs access to the education dream.”
Energy efficiency and how solar retrofitting of public buildings to create jobs were also discussed.
“Retrofitting city buildings to allow for energy conservation will not only save money by reducing the city’s energy usage, it will put people back to work,” Fletcher said. “This will help rebuild neighborhoods and put people back to work in good paying jobs.”
Filner said, “I don’t know why people are unable to say the word ‘mandate’ but if elected mayor that’s exactly what I’ll do. I’ll mandate all public buildings be solar powered within five years. It will save money, create jobs and allow us to be proud of ourselves as a city.”
The mayoral race will first be voted on in the June 5 primary election, where Filner, Fletcher, Dumanis and DeMaio will run against each other, as well as three other candidates. If no majority winner is decided in the primary, the top two candidates will be on the November 6 general election ballot.