An early debate for year's mayoral race took place at Balboa Theatre Wednesday night even though just two candidates out of the four favorites decided to participate.
State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher and U.S. Rep. Bob Filner took questions from a community panel, members of the media and the audience.
The candidates clearly had different opinions on the current economic situation facing the city, the pension crisis and the need to bring more jobs into the region.
Q: Do you support the pension initiative that is going to be on the ballot in June?
“I believe this initiative will help lower those annual payments so that we can invest in the critical city services we all need and we all deserve,” said Fletcher. “As mayor, I will implement it in a way that is fair to workers by returning them in to social security and structuring a refined annuity on top of that so we can provide a security and stable retirement for city workers while at the same time ensuring that we have the funds we need over the next two decades to deliver the services we all deserve.”
“It puts our city workers under the bus,” Filner said. “It doesn’t save any money. It doesn’t save any money certainly at the beginning. You set up a 401K and state and federal law says you’ve got to have transition costs from the system to pay for it. And no new money is coming into the system so what happens? You increase the annual unfunded liability payment. You increase it. That means we have less money for potholes. We have less money for libraries and rec centers.”
Q: Would you support a plan that gives locals first dibs on city project jobs?
“I think there's enough work to go around for all workers,” said Fletcher. “Those in San Diego and in the surrounding areas.”
“Anything we can do to hire local workers we should do,” said Filner. “There's not enough work to go around. That's why we have to have an economic development policy.”
Better San Diego Coalition, the host of the debate, certainly made it known that they invited all four candidates.
In fact, moderator Lorena Gonzalez of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO told the audience to be quote "extra respectful to the candidates since they were respectful enough to show up.”
“If any other candidate that's not here is referenced, you're free to boo,” said Gonzalez.
San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said she didn't attend the debate because it was held too early in the race. San Diego City Councilmember Carl DeMaio said he didn't attend because it was sponsored by what he calls "a political enemy."