After eight years as the mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders has handed the reins over to Bob Filner. But that doesn’t mean Sanders is leaving public service. Quite the contrary. This month, Sanders will continue his already impressive 34 years of public service in San Diego as he moves into the position of CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Sanders told local news that his move makes perfect sense in regards to his long career as a San Diego advocate, and that he looks forward to contributing to more change and advances in San Diego.
While the spotlight has been on Sanders’ mayoral run almost the entire last decade, his contributions in those 34 years have truly been staggering. Before taking over as mayor in 2005 when former mayor Dick Murphy stepped down, Sanders was the chief of the San Diego Police Department. He also served as the chair of the San Diego chapter of the American Red Cross and ran the United Way.
But perhaps it is his biggest achievement that when he became mayor, he inherited a list of problems many thought were incurable, including a financial mess that had San Diego on the brink of bankruptcy; a loss of revenue from property taxes and sales taxes led to hundreds of job cuts for city employees. Sanders, who’d never dreamed of running for office, had a long road of reform ahead of him. Now, in 2012, the City finds itself stabilized with an almost $12 million budget surplus, the details of which were released by Sanders in May.
On top of managing the fiscal crisis, Sanders also expanded the San Diego Convention Center, helped institute the building of a new stadium, came out in support of gay marriage (largely unheard of for Republican candidates), oversaw the fighting of some of the worst fires in Southern California history, supported Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama renovation and the building of a new City library in downtown, and helped the city adopt a 401K pension plan.
“It has been an honor to serve as Mayor of this wonderful City,” says Sanders. “San Diego has come a long way over the last few years and that certainly wouldn’t have happened without the support and involvement of the people of San Diego. It has been a privilege to work with every community in every corner of the City to get us back on track.”
Already easing into the transition, Sanders spoke to a crowd in September about bringing even more business to the city; he explained that by working with the Otay Chamber he was recently able to keep Jensen Meats from building its new plant in Colorado. With one of the highest approval ratings for a San Diego mayor, Sanders will bring his legacy of civil and political work to his new role at the City Chamber on December 4. RYAN THOMAS