February 27, 2004

Editorial:

Aguirre’s the Right Choice for San Diego City Attorney

The vision for the City Attorney’s office reads that “this Office is to be a proactive, early intervention-oriented, community outreach-focused public law office that does outstanding legal work for the City of San Diego and the People of the State of California.”

This is the opening statement on the webpage of Casey Gwinn, the present City Attorney, who is being termed out of office, and in this statement lies what is wrong with the office. It has not lived up to the vision.

The City Attorney’s office no longer represents the City of San Diego, but instead has dedicated itself primarily to serving the city council and mostly behind closed doors. This is what is wrong with this office. The critics are right in that this office does not set policy, but as an elected position, the City Attorney has a responsibility to represent the voters and their needs. And clearly, the voters and their needs have not been represented as evidenced by the Chargers’ ticket guarantee debacle and the Pension Fund dealings, which have attracted a Federal investigation. A proactive, intervention-oriented office would have gone before the public and addressed these situations in the public arena, where the voters would have the information necessary to make an informed decision on the issues of the day.

Candidates Deborah Berger and Leslie Devaney are products of the City Attorney’s office, having served and worked with Casey Gwinn. While they both may be competent attorneys, it is our opinion that if elected, they will slide back into the comfort zone that they are familiar with, and a zone in which they have both expressed that their primary role is to serve as legal counsel to the city council and prosecute misdemeanors.

What has been particularly abhorrent in this debate, over who will best serve as City Attorney, Mike Aguirre has been the attacked for his “litigious past.” This represents an egregious lack of understanding in regards to the Hispanic community, to minority communities and minority issues in general.

As a minority, or representing minority opinions or issues, there are very few avenues available to pursue these issues. It is this lack of access that has greatly contributed to our status as a “minority,” and this is the struggle that we face everyday. One of the few avenues available to the Hispanic community is to create change through the court system, where we can have an impact on those issues that are important to us and to society as a whole. This is where Mike Aguirre has carried the fight in representing minority issues, and it is through the courts that some of our greatest social issues have come to fruition.

Mike Aguirre has fought the good fight in representing such people as César Chavez, in fighting to bring district elections in the city of San Diego. He has represented the minority position on issues such as the Chargers’ deal and the Padres ballpark issue, and he has fought to bring district elections to the county board of supervisors, which clearly does not reflect the diversity of the city. And one other thing Mike Aguirre has done, he has done this pro bono – for free – not making one red cent to represent these cases.

To attack Mike Aguirre for representing minority interest is reprehensible, and it debases the issues he has fought for and represented.

Mike Aguirre is the right candidate at the right time to serve as the City Attorney for San Diego. When it comes to practicing and understanding the law, Mike Aguirre takes a backseat to no one. He has the qualifications, the education, the understanding to provide legal advice to the city council, the boards and the commissions. He has the experience to represent the city in regards to litigation. And more importantly, Mike Aguirre has the unabated desire to serve in the best interest of the residents of San Diego, something that he has already proven. Can the other candidates match his track record in this regard? The answer is no.

Mike Aguirre is the right choice. Vote for Mike Aguirre and let’s change the way the City Attorney’s office works – in our best interest!

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