Mayor Jerry Sanders is done. Well, almost. The two-term mayor held his final news conference today before he exiting office on Monday, Dec. 3.
But Sanders won’t entirely abandon America’s Finest City. He recently accepted a job as CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Mayor-elect Bob Filner came into the conference room before Sanders arrived Wednesday, and joked he was going to take over the press conference.
Sanders thanked the media, telling the reporters at the news conference that his aide, Darren Pudgil, had set him up to deliver that “thank-you.”
“I know that sounds pretty weird,” he told the reporters, “but I do want to thank you. I haven’t always agreed with everything that’s been written. I haven’t always agreed with the points of view, but I think I’ve been treated fairly.”
He thanked all San Diegans for their patience and support during his seven years as mayor, which included navigating some very difficult financial problems with the city employees’ pension deficit, and employee and retiree health care costs.
Sanders took credit, but also shared it with the city council and city employees, for quadrupling the city’s financial reserves, streamlining city departments and out-sourcing the city’s IT needs.
He said pension reform will save taxpayers $2 Billion, conservatively, over the coming 25-30 years.
He said he wishes incoming mayor Bob Filner the best, and will have a formal meeting with him tomorrow to discuss city issues. He also said Filner should know that the public, and the media, will be watching him closely, in his role as the city’s chief executive.
"The scrutiny’s been much greater on the strong mayor, and Bob’s the second strong Mayor, and I’m sure he’s going to feel that," Sanders said. "I know that’s what you get when you take on a job like this and I know he’s up to the challenge.”
Asked what he’s going to do Monday, when his term ends, and Bob Filner is sworn in as mayor, Sanders said, “First thing, I’m gonna drink some beer on Monday afternoon. I’m done and noon, and I think there’s a few beers in my life that day.” Which makes sense, as Sanders has been a vocal supporter of San Diego's craft brewing industry.
He said he and his wife are going to Italy for three months, and returning in April to start his job as president of the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce.
He said his seven years as Mayor were “not a fun job”, but that he enjoyed it, and enjoyed “getting stuff done.”
“But I’m not a politician by nature, not a politician by training, and I found politics to be a relatively difficult, I guess, uh, occupation, so I didn’t enjoy some of that.”
He expanded on that, saying, “Some called politics a blood sport. It’s very different, when you talk with people and you come up with a plan that everyone agrees on and automatically half are going to say, ‘We don’t want to do that, for whatever political reason.’”