If elected, city attorney candidate judge Jan Goldsmith said he would depoliticize the office.
"The city attorney's office is about the law, not politics," said Goldsmith, who's been a practicing attorney for 32 years, written both civil and criminal law, created laws as a state assemblyman, is the former mayor of Poway and enforced laws for the past 10 years as a Superior Court judge. "That office is much too political: It needs to be returned to doing what it's supposed to do, and that is being the law firm for the city."
Goldsmith is running for city attorney for two reasons. "One is public service," he said. "The other is the challenge of turning that office around and making it one of the finest public law firms, and helping the city get back on its feet in the process."
The judge, who is on leave of absence, is not running for office because it's more power. "I lose my bailiff," he said.
He's not running for office out of ego. "I have to call my former colleagues, 'Your honor,' " he added.
It's not about more pay, which Goldsmith said is about the same as what he's making. And it's certainly not about a lighter workload. "It's going to be a lot more work given what needs to be done in that office," he pointed out.
So why is Goldsmith running for city attorney? "I'm running for this office because it's a law job," he said, "and to help our community and turn that office around."
The city attorney challenger believes the office he is running for is dysfunctional. "Right now the office is in shambles," he said, "and the city is never going to get back on its feet unless it can be brought back to professional standards."
Goldsmith has a game plan for returning the city attorney's office back to respectability. His 10 commitments are: to focus solely on the law; conduct aggressive, fair, non-partisan investigations to be carried out through the legal process, not press conferences; ensure the city is provided independent legal advice in a timely manner; hold city employees accountable and not look the other way when laws are broken; no longer pursue frivolous lawsuits; treat everyone equally before the law; solve problems and not create obstacles to lawful solutions; balance the office's budget and make it transparent; require attorneys in the office to conduct their work in a non-partisan manner; and work hard to be an effective city attorney never forgetting that individual is accountable to the people of San Diego.
Incumbent city attorney Michael Aguirre and Goldsmith agree on one thing, the office should remain independent. But that's as far as their agreement goes. "Mike and I disagree on what an independent city attorney means," Goldsmith said. "I don't believe that you get to be the mayor or get to jump into policy and influence votes. I think that's destructive and impairs the ability of the real policymakers to do their job. The word independent means basing our legal work on the law, and not on politics, personalities or what the press or mayor may want. It's based only on the law. It's something I've been doing as a judge for the last 10 years."