Prop. D passage locks in strong-mayor for San Diego


The strong-mayor form of government will be a permanent fixture at San Diego City Hall, and a ninth member will be added to the City Council.

Voters on Tuesday approved Proposition D, which will also increase to two-thirds the number of votes needed to override a mayoral veto.

The strong-mayor system was approved by voters in 2005 for a five-year trial period. That experiment would have expired at the end of this year had Proposition D not passed.

When the city switched to a strong-mayor form of government, the mayor assumed the duties formerly held by a city manager, such as the hiring and firing of department heads and proposing the budget. The mayor also ceased being a voting member of the city council, but was given veto authority.

However, as it sits now, it takes only a simple majority of the eight- member council to override a mayoral veto, the same number as it takes to approve most legislation. That makes the mayor’s veto power largely moot.

Having an eight-member council has also resulted in occasional tie votes over the past five years.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer said Tuesday he was encouraged that San Diegans approved Proposition D. He said the city can’t afford to go back to a city manager system, a structure he said led to San Diego’s financial woes.

“San Diegans clearly don’t want to return to a failed system of government that brought us the pension crisis,” he said.

Mayor Jerry Sanders told San Diego 6 that strong-mayor will lead to greater accountability at City Hall.

Sanders said the bulk of Proposition D won’t take effect until 2012, when he will be termed out.

“It’s not about Jerry Sanders,” he said. “It’s about the city of San Diego.”

Opponents had argued that adding a ninth council seat would cost too much — an estimated $1 million annually — at a time when services are being slashed to balance San Diego’s budget.

Faulconer has already proposed legislation to absorb the ninth district into the existing city council budgets.

Proposition C, which would update San Diego’s hiring practices policy to give preferential treatment to veterans, also appears to have passed with the support of more than three-quarters of voters. The measure amends the city charter to award extra hiring “credits” to veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and their spouses.