Why I’m voting for Nathan Fletcher to be our next Mayor

Next Tuesday, June 5, is election day and the mayor’s race is one of the most hotly contested races by most long timer’s accounts. In a city where most residents have long lost faith in the political process or in their elected officials’ ability to effect change, many are very cynical about Fletcher’s messages to create the sort of city we’ve all been wanting but have been too afraid to really ask for.

But before why I detail my reasons for why I think we need to give Fletcher a shot, let’s go through the current slate of candidates from worst to best.

Bonnie DumanisThe current District Attorney states that her experience in running a city bureaucracy makes her tough enough to handle our current problems. Given how our existing law enforcement shows absolute disregard for any human being who walks, bikes or exists outside an automobile, Dumanis as our mayor means that a vision for a more livable city will never exist during her tenure. Besides going after the city’s lowlife, a tiny percentage of the population, that exists in our city, a mayor has to embody the spirit of a leader that inspire residents to becomes more engaged and passionate about making the city into a model that is attractive to businesses, residents and visitors. Dumanis’ narrow focus means that San Diego will regress into being a lowly backwater city while cities smaller and larger than ours will transform into economic hubs that we should be aspiring toward.

Carl DeMaio – DeMaio’s mayoral campaign is akin to that of a Councilmember’s campaign. His infrastructure plan addresses the same problems that current Councilmember Gloria is accomplishing through his “sexy streets” campaign. The issues he tackles lacks the sort of vision that a mayoral candidate ought to have. Despite DeMaio’s visit to Portland he failed to see the economic potential a more bike friendly San Diego would bring. Having watched how DeMaio interacts with other Councilmembers reveals a level of animosity and immaturity that would be laughable if City Council were a kindergarten classroom. If DeMaio is unable to bridge ideological divides at City Council, I’m unclear on how he can lead the eight largest city in the country out of its current woes.

Bob Filner – I see the mayoral race as akin to a job interview and the four candidates are currently putting on their best face in order to get the job. Filner’s best face to date has been exceedingly sloppy. As a congressman, Filner has voted on the issues that has garnered praise from environmental and left-leaning groups. But after listening to a recent talk about campaign finance reform, I got the impression that Filner was running for mayor because he was tired of being a fundraiser in Congress. That’s too bad because, given the slate of mostly awful San Diego based Congressional House Representatives currently in office, Filner is a valuable ally in Congress. The narrative for his lackluster mayoral campaign in his run for Mayor has been driven by his party affiliation more than any realistic vision for San Diego. If Filner, running to be the leader of the city, couldn’t be bothered to put his best face forward in a mayoral election, I’m too afraid to imagine the sort of mayor we will have if he is elected to office.

Nathan Fletcher for Mayor. Photo from nathanfletcher.com

Nathan FletcherMany people I know and have spoken to are truly on the fence about Fletcher. They’re suspicious of Fletcher’s ditch of the GOP label to run as an independent. They are unconvinced that he will implement any of his plans if elected to office. The reason I’m supporting Fletcher is because I’m willing to give him a chance. His former party affiliation is meaningless to me, because some of our strongest allies at the state and Federal level have been Republicans (Ray LaHood, Tom Petri, Rick Snyder and more). Fletcher’s various endorsements cut through party lines and his endorsers all reveal a genuine admiration for a man who does seem to be the sort of leader who is willing to work for the common good. His most famous piece of legislative work at the state assembly was written based at his constituents’ request. While the subject is not something I pay close attention to, I appreciate a candidate’s willingness to listen and enact change. In Sacramento, he voted to support bills that would keep bicycle riders safe. On environmental issues, San Diego’s Earth Day Founder, Carolyn Chase, wrote a strong statement of support praising Fletcher. Unrelated to transportation and land use issues, he voted to preserve and enhance our environmental resources such as water.

San Diegans long tired of promises made by candidates that have fallen flat or disappeared are justified in being suspicious of this new face in town who is promising a vision that locals are too afraid to believe in. Although I was extremely impressed when he came out with a truly outstanding bike plan policy, what has given me the confidence to vote for Fletcher is his ability to address hard questions without deflecting with a joke (like Filner often does), or redirecting them (like DeMaio always seems to). Having lived under our existing mayor who has been mostly opaque to the general public, I’d like to have someone in charge who will answer questions when he is in the hot seat. And of course, his willingness to envision a more livable city that will be inviting to existing and future residents of the city, is certainly something we should all support.

UPDATE: To find your local polling place, click here.

Fletcher’s team designed and released a masthead to titled, “Cyclists, bikers for Fletcher” with no prompting on my part. That did tickle me.