The Continuity in Policy in San Diego Politics



By Nadin Abbott, photos Tom Abbott

September 17, 2013 (San Diego) Mike Aguirre opened his campaign at the FDR grove at Balboa Park. This is the sign at the grove, to remind us of that other period in US History, a time of despair, a time of crisis.

Was Aguirre making a direct link to the past? Yes he was. As he told the assembled media on Friday, 

“The events of the last few months, provide San Diego with a historic opportunity to a better way to conduct the people’s business. Let us propose a new politics for San Diego, one that is not based on endorsements or special interests, private agendas or the self interested few.”


He is looking for a new way of doing politics, and while he was not quite comparing himself to FDR, he was alluding to the fact that San Diego has had yet another crisis in it’s government. We need change. 

What we have though is something else in San Diego. We have a continuity of policy that is striking. But most San Diegans are too busy to notice. I just finished reading Dick Murphy’s autobiography San Diego’s Judge Mayor. In this book Murphy details what was his vision and continues to be his vision to the present. 

One of the most striking elements of his book, and Aguirre’s campaign launch was the idea that San Diego should be both Water and Energy independent. Some might even believe this was a Filner idea, but it wasn’t. Some of these have been brewing since at least the Murphy administration.

Other ideas, such as the Mission Trails Regional Park, or the San Diego River system, go back further than that. These are things that unify the region. In some ways, these are things that make the region such an exiting place to live. At times we have political brush fires that are hard to put out. And yes, we have agendas, and we have created interests. But we also have some men, who have vision.

Now I am not saying that Mike Aguirre has any love lost for Dick Murphy. I know for a fact Murphy does not have any love for Aguirre. But here from the back bench of the political observer, where we sit and watch politics and report on it. I would recommend that every candidate for Mayor in San Diego, at least read the epilogue of that book. There is vision there. And there are some continuity in policy that goes back at least ten years. 

As to the rest of the things that Aguirre proposed. I am quite intrigued by the idea of a new type of politics. It sounds like the kind of politics that we saw in New York City mayoral campaign, where Bill de Blasio won the Primary. Are we seeing a change in politics? The reference to the politics of the era of FDR was amusing, especially before the formal event. It was also an era that most San Diegans are unaware off. Even when we have New Deal and Conservation Corp buildings, and in this case a trail, all over the region. 

Suffice it to say, that we will watch how this campaign goes on. We will also look for other echoes. At least I hope, regardless of who ultimately emerges, that the era of San Diego scandal, starting with Roger Hedgehock, is finally put to an end. That also depends on whether those private agendas finally let go, and allow the city to move forwards. After all, this return to the neighborhoods is not new either, nor a Filner invention. 


Now here is a photo of Aguirre with his dog Winston, named after Prime Minister Winston Churchill. 

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