San Diego Mayor Bob Filner started his term Monday with promises for the next four years.
Filner, 70, was sworn in Monday during a public ceremony in Balboa Park. Though his campaign was flush with platform goals to give the city a more diverse representation, he listed off several specifics during his inauguration speech to supporters and the newly officiated city council.
Among his thanks, he gave special mention to his predecessor Jerry Sanders, who will now lead the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. In his seven years as mayor, Sanders is credited with balancing San Diego’s budget and leading the city to a solid bond rating.
Restoring city services was one of several goals listed during Filner's inauguration speech. He said he hopes to restore amenities cut during Sanders' terms.
“It is unacceptable that libraries closed on weekends lifeguard towers and public restrooms aren’t maintained and our first responders don’t have the communication and vehicles they need to fully protect us,” he said.
And, in what looks to be one of the major themes of his tenure, he emphasized his commitment to neglected neighborhoods, promising to complete the update of neighborhood community plans. The plans are public documents with specific proposals for future development. Many are outdated and will cost a substantial amount of money to revise.
“We will ask neighborhoods to prioritize their public facilities’ needs and help us develop a program for financing those improvements.”
Filner also promised to expand the convention center and “support the local military bases and defense industry in the face of federal cutbacks.”
He also said he would make sure that the Chargers stay in San Diego.
“We’ll protect urban open spaces, reduce storm water pollution, and make our neighborhoods more bicycle and pedestrian friendly,” Filner promised.
Filner added that he would uphold the recently-approved pension reform measure, Prop. B, but only if the courts uphold it.
He also revisited a few campaign mottos, including a promise to put solar panels on all public buildings. This goal was often given the deadline of five years, but Filner did not say when he hoped to accomplish this in his speech Monday. He also mentioned his objective to create 50,000 new and well-paying jobs – though this was phrased as a goal, not a promise.
Promises aside, Filner discouraged the city from concentrating on his future accomplishments and instead encouraged transparency.
“At the end of the day I want my tenure as mayor judged not just on what we accomplished but on how we made the decisions to get there,” he said. “You can’t build trust and support for city government if just a few people are making decisions for all the rest of us.”
Filner harkened back to the focal point of his campaign, rejecting the prominence of city insiders and embracing those residents who typically don’t participate in the decisions made by city leaders.
“I want a city Government where everyone has a seat at the decision-making family," he said. "Where the concerns of a Filipino family in Mira Mesa or a single mom in San Ysidro carry just as much weight at city hall as the traditional insiders.”