More than 100 San Diegans lined up to meet Mayor Bob Filner during open office hours. The mayor says the session was one of many to come as part of his plan to connect with the people. NBC 7's Lea Sutton reports.
More than 100 San Diegans gathered in downtown San Diego Saturday morning to meet Mayor Bob Filner.
Filner held open office hours from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the City Administration Building located at 202 C Street.
The event was open to any and all San Diegans who wanted to “show up and talk.”
Filner told NBC 7 this is part of his mission as mayor to make himself accessible to the public. The event, he said, is one of many to come.
“I’ve always believed that government has to be very close to the people,” said Filner. “[I thought] Let’s have people come into City Hall Saturday mornings and we’ll just talk to people. Have some coffee and just talk. It’s as simple as that.”
The mayor said meeting with locals gives him true perspective on what’s currently happening in our city.
“It really grounds you in the real problems that people have,” he added. “People who are homeless, people who are trying to keep their business going. It’s amazing. I get recommitted to solving issues that people have.”
Attendees -- who began lining up around the building as early as 7 a.m. -- were satisfied with their one-on-one time with the mayor. Local Harris Clayton said he had about three minutes to talk with Filner Saturday morning and said their meeting went well.
Clayton went specifically to talk with Filner about issues pertaining to District 4, including affordable housing and education.
“I think it’s a good forum. It eliminates a barrier [and the notion] that a politician is not accessible. When you have that type of humane closeness with the mayor then there’s more engagement and involvement between citizens and the mayor because there’s a listening ear,” said Clayton.
Meanwhile, a group of locals showed up to meet with Filner on behalf of One Billion Rising, an organization committed to ending violence against women and girls.
The organization wanted to speak with Filner about a march they’re hosting locally on Feb. 14 and speak to the mayor about his plans to end this type of violence in San Diego.
“I think it’s great to have an open forum to talk to our leaders,” said Carla Nell of One Billion RIsing. “We haven’t had this in a very long time.”
Young residents were also excited about getting a chance to meet with Filner.
Local soccer player Ruby Richter visited the mayor with her family to talk to him about getting the City to fix some club soccer fields.
Richter said the field where she plays with her team is riddled with gopher holes. She broke her ankle during practice after stumbling on one of the holes and wants to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to other kids.
“We want to fix the gopher holes so no one else breaks their ankle or hurts anything,” she said.
During the meetings, the mayor’s staff members sat in alongside constituents and took notes for future follow-up.
According to Filner's camp, this is the first Saturday session as promised by the mayor during his campaign. Filner plans to be available at City Hall on the first Saturday of every month from 9:30 a.m. to noon.