May 2, 2008

Editorial:

Steve Francis is our choice for Mayor of San Diego

The mayor’s race for the City of San Diego is between Steve Francis and Jerry Sanders. With the incumbent mayor Jerry Sanders we know what we are getting and quite frankly we don’t like we have seen, nor do we feel very good about another 4 years of his leadership.

For the Hispanic community Jerry Sanders was never a good fit. Even though it has been 24 years, those who lived in San Diego, you can still recall the San Ysidro massacre, at the McDonalds restaurant and the role that Jerry Sanders played in delaying the SWAT team’s response to the killing spree going on. As the then commander of the SWAT team, Sanders delayed their response until he arrived at the scene after traveling from Mission Beach to San Ysidro. While the SWAT team sat and waited, James Huberty killed 21 Mexican Americans. One only 8 months old.

Jerry Sanders won that special election in ’05. As mayor he announced his kitchen cabinet, his leadership team for the city. Despite the fact that the city is 27% Hispanic Sanders could not find one qualified Hispanic to be a part of his leadership team. Some have asked what about Fred Sainz, the mayor’s spokesman? We reminder those who consider Sainz a leader that he is merely a spokesman as demonstrated by the recent flap over Sanders using the F-word with Steve Francis. Sainz told reporters it never happened. Sanders later admitted that indeed he did swear out Francis.

There was also the time that Jerry Sanders went on radio and declared his support for the minutemen, after they trashed and destroyed personal property of migrant workers living in the canyons.

During the firestorm and mass evacuations, San Diego police were checking for legal status of Hispanics at Qualcomm stadium and holding families for the border patrol. The San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, whose members spent countless hours working on-site, tirelessly documented the incidents and witness accounts and compiled a comprehensive report on the treatment of Latinos and other people of color at Qualcomm Stadium during the tragedy. They submitted it to Sanders and he has yet to respond or publicly acknowledge their effort or the existence of the report. In fact, at the recent Cesar E. Chavez memorial breakfast held at the San Diego Convention Center, Sanders walked out during the presentation of the report to those in the audience.

In regards to the pension/budget problems we couldn’t disagree more with Sanders method to fix the problem by firing the workers and attempting to out source many of the city’s jobs through an opening bidding process which would take away living wages and benefits from many Hispanic workers.

We remember Jerry Sanders cutting the funding for our local pools. Under Sanders the quality of life for the Hispanic community has not improved. In Barrio Logan he has thwarted attempts by community members to establish a planning group of community and wants them to wait until after plans for the area are already established. In essence the residents of Barrio Logan are being stonewalled and are being denied a say about the future of their community.

No, as Hispanics it is difficult to find anything good about Jerry Sanders’ tenure as mayor and we haven’t even discussed his policies in general which we find lacking.

Mayor Sanders’ appointment of former State Senator Steve Peace and the front man for Padres owner John Moores, to the Airport Regional Policy Committee and his mishandling and support of the Sunroad issue only confirms his ties with lobbyist. Sanders’ promise to get the city back on track financially has not happened. His promise to clean up the pension board and force the resignation of most of its board members never happed. His promise of an open and transparent city government is and continues to be a joke. The one promise he did stick to was not to raise taxes. He raised water and sewer rates instead.

We believe that this race for mayor gives the voter an opportunity to change course, to give a new face that is not controlled by the status quo that has dominated San Diego politics. San Diego needs fresh ideas to tackle San Diego’s problems and to give hope to San Diego’s Hispanic that their needs will be addressed and that person is Steve Francis.

Steve Francis has a successful business background. He has held political office in Nevada, which means he knows the government process. But what makes this endorsement possible is that he has taken the time to sit down with a variety of members of the Hispanic community, listen to their concerns, and act upon them.

When we first sat down and talked with Francis it was his strong business sense that stood out. So when we read his position on immigration it was in stark contrast to his business common sense. Francis sat down and talked with other Hispanic groups and individuals and Francis listened to the community – Francis acted upon the input from the Hispanic community.

La Prensa San Diego is encouraged by Francis’ commitment to focus Police Department efforts on critical law enforcement issues facing residents and not exhausting already strained resources on enforcing federal immigration law. He believes San Diego needs to have compassionate leadership and humane policies that treat people equally and will not divide the community for the sake of political gain.

What is important here is that Francis took the time to discuss the issue with the Hispanic community and like most people who are presented with a salient argument, he was able to see all sides of the issue and adjust his thinking accordingly.

Steve Francis has demonstrated that he is willing and able to sit and talk with the Hispanic community and be open to new ideas based on fairness, inclusion and respect. That is why we support Steve Francis for Mayor.

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