Mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher: I want to make San Diego the “world’s most innovative city”

Last Saturday, mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher sat down with key members in the bicycling community to start the conversation on the how San Diego could make bicycling a priority and the ways he intends to enable that additional choice for all San Diegans who want to transport themselves on a bicycle.

Mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher (second from left). Photo by Randy Van Vleck.

Fletcher started the discussion by stating his vision in wanting to change the slogan of San Diego from “America’s Finest City” to “World’s Most Innovative City” and all the elements that would go toward making that slogan worth striving toward. However with Republicans at the national level doing everything possible to anger the cycling public, Fletcher has a much harder hill to climb in order to convince San Diegans that despite being a Republican he understands the core issues involved in transforming our city from one that is car-centric to one that welcomes and encourages all modes of transportation, especially bicycling.

To that end, Fletcher did emphasize that the Mayor’s election in San Diego was a non-partisan election. He also stated his reasons for being in the Republican Party, primarily that in a partisan climate he had to pick one out of the two and that he supported some of the core economic issues and the message of enabling access to the American Dream inherent to the Republican Party. Fletcher spent a lot of time detailing instances on how he broke away from the party line on issues he had to vote for in the California Assembly and explained that he was unafraid to do so.

Fletcher began the conversation by stating how Council member Tony Young is lucky to both live and work next to a trolley station. Fletcher went on to state how his journey by bike from his home in University City to downtown is only eleven miles, but an unpleasant eleven miles. He said the ride was “depressing”.

We’re not going to have the same old conversations about the crisis of the day. Let’s talk about building our transportation system to be the “world’s most innovative city” – Nathan Fletcher

Fletcher talked about making the City’s bike plan a priority. He said he was aware of the criticism he would get in pushing a progressive transportation policy and responded, “I’m comfortable with criticism.” He went on to elaborate that right now, “people don’t have the option to choose.” He emphasized that while the other issues of the day were important, San Diegans needed a leader who would make and enable a transportation choice and make it a priority.

A few years ago the City of San Diego’s system of government changed from a City Manager form to a Strong Mayor form. Fletcher stated that he was not running to be the City Manager, but to be the City’s leader. As the City’s main leader he stated, “you’re ultimately responsible for every decision. You take all the blame and share the credit. ”

Fletcher articulated that he wanted to be a coalition builder especially with key economic entities such as neighboring cities, SANDAG and even Mexico. He articulated a plan on how he intended to work the Mexican government because of our common economic and cultural ties.

When asked how he intended to address those who disagree with where the city’s priorities ought to be placed. He responded, “you may not get everyone to agree but you will get enough to agree who are relevant to the conversation. ” He stated that he wanted to focus on solutions and stated that he was willing to step outside his comfort zone in order to reach those solutions.

Fletcher differentiated himself from the three major mayoral candidates by stating that pounding one’s fist on the table is one way of getting things done and an approach favored by both Carl DeMaio (Republican) and Bob Filner (Democrat). He stated that wanting to uphold the status quo was another method and was favored by mayoral candidate Bonnie Dumanis (Republican). Fletcher stated that he was a coalition builder and that he wanted to work with enough people who wanted change and that he was willing to work to make that change happen.

He also discussed some of the state bills he witnessed during his term at the State Assembly. The key one relevant to bicyclists was the three foot passing bill that Governor Brown vetoed. Fletcher said he was was disappointed in Governor Brown’s decision but promised, “we’ll get it back”.

When Fletcher was asked how he intends to deal with the “culture of saying no” that exists in City Hall right now especially with regard to issues such as installing bike corrals that are being demanded by businesses all over the City. Fletcher responded that he knew that he wasn’t a Pollyanna and that change was going to take time. His response was revealing  when he stated, “you’re going to have to beat your head against the wall and I’m willing to take risks. Part of taking risks means making mistakes. You will get a lot of attention, but that’s okay.” He stated that he wasn’t “wedded to doing things the old way.”

Fletcher finished by stating that he had a bike plan policy that he would be releasing to the public toward the beginning of March and that in order to become the City’s first bike friendly Mayor he needed help from the bicycling community.

I look forward to reading and analyzing the Nathan Fletcher’s bike plan policy and hope that the other mayoral candidates also consider issuing a bike plan policy of their own.