Mayoral candidate Carl Demaio announced his plans for potholes. Gene Cubbison reports
With twelve days left in San Diego's mayoral race, the front runner has just moved to up the ante.
City Councilman Carl DeMaio, who's been practicing pension-reform politics for years, is now putting a sharp focus on pothole-fixing politics.
And if City Hall doesn't come correct, he says, he'll take an initiative campaign to San Diego's cracked and sketchy streets, recently ranked as the nation's eighth worst.
"This is probably the opening act in dealing with our infrastructure deficit," DeMaio told reporters at a Thursday morning news conference staged at a College Area intersection that's in apparent need of asphalt.
Behind him stood a supporting cast of contractors who are more than ready to do what's needed, if the money's there.
For DeMaio, the fix is a financial 'lock-box' to hold revenue increases above the city's next budget for the purpose of road repairs and maintenance.
He projects $480 million over five years, without tax hikes.
"(We will) take the savings from our pension reform initiative and other reforms like managed competition and streamlining city government," DeMaio explained, (and) the other reforms in my 249-page 'Roadmap to Recovery', and make sure they're put where the neighborhoods want these funds put. And I believe that's in their roads."
DeMaio says he'll ask Councilmembers to put a city charter amendment on the ballot.
And if they don't, he'll go to the voters for petition signatures to mount an initiative.
In terms of political strategizing, "This is what Carl does best," says Liam Dillon, who covers the mayoral race and City Hall for our media partner Voice of San Diego.
"He has the luxury of being in first place," Dillon added. "He can go out and say he's going to do for November when all of his opponents are scrambling to get through June. And he can make it so that when November comes, they have to be on his team."
Those who offered responses to DeMaio's proposal Thursday weren't buying in to that approach, and questioned his numbers.
"We need to bring people together to do it," said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. "That's the job of the mayor -- to lead. And I will lead and I will get it done."
Said state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher: "There's nothing controversial about filling potholes. So I don't know why we need to threaten ballot measures in order to do one of the most basic functions of the city government."
Campaign handlers for the other major candidate, Congressman Bob Filner, did not respond to a request for comment.
A spokesman for Mayor Sanders suggested we just repeat the caustic remarks Sanders made about DeMaio yesterday (among them, "It's all bull----").
DeMaio said he'll present his proposal to the Council's Rules Committee June 13.