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The race for mayor: Steve Francis takes another bite out of the political apple

By Dave Schwab

This time around, Steve Francis promises he’ll be a kinder, gentler candidate for mayor.

“In 2005, I had only eight weeks to run,” noted Francis in a recent face-to-face interview with Light staff. “I ran as a hard-nosed businessman, a Republican, over-conservative. I’m really not that kind of guy.

“I don’t think people had the opportunity to get to know who I am, my personality. I’m trying to change that this time.”

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Simply put, Francis said he’s running for mayor again because he’s dissatisfied with incumbent Jerry Sanders performance, and because he feels he has the qualities and skill sets to do a better job.

“He (Sanders) made 22 distinct campaign promises and he only delivered on three of them, which is a pretty low ratio.” said Francis. “There’s two problems with the mayor: He’s not moving quickly enough on things, and he’s not moving on some things at all, which he had promised to do.

How would Francis’ mayoral adminstration be different than Sanders?

“Lots of things would be different,” answered Francis. “I’m not going to worry about cuttng ribbons or holding a press conferences literally once or twice a day. I would set a different tone at the top. I would set a different tone at the top. I believe in government, good politics follows good policy. In the Sanders administration, it’s the other way around. This isn’t about politics. This is about governing a city. Running the city. It should not be run for political reasons.”

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On La Jolla issues, Francis said he was very much in favor of turning the Soledad cross over to the federal government in order to preserve it. He also believes that returning Children’s Pool to shared use by humans and harbor seals is the right way to go. “The original intent was that that pool should be used by children and I think we have to follow the law,” Francis said. “If you want to change (pool uses) then you need to change that law. I’m all for following whatever the law is.”

Francis added he’s dead-set against paid on-street parking in La Jolla. “I came to a meeting of the parking board as a spectator,” he said, “and I wasn’t going to speak but the arrogance of the committee stunned me. I stood up and said, ‘Wait a minute, you have an agenda here.’ ”

“You can’t go against the will of the people. I think paid parking would ruin the ambiance of La Jolla, which is very important to the community as far as its being a tourist destination,” said Francis, who has had an office in the Jewel in the past and whose children attend The Bishop’s School. “I don’t think you should have paid parking here, and I don’t think you should be shoving something down on people. I can’t imagine putting parking meters up and down the street. It’s wrong. It’s being pushed by these business interests and I just don’t think that’s what we want to do.”

Francis said his mayoral campaign will focus on three issues: Getting rid of special interests politics and influence downtown; (truly) streamlining city government; and fixing the city’s pension crisis and fiscal mess.

“I’m going to get rid of special interests,” said Francis, “appointing lobbyists to board and commissions and charter reviews. I’m going to clamp down really hard on anybody working for me having contact with lobbyists. I think it’s inappropriate. I’m going to get a big broom and sweep out all the special interest and the special-interest influence once and for all.”

Francis takes issue with Sanders staff “cuts,” which he claims are, in reality, non-existent.

“Sanders has boasted about cutting over 600 positions,” he said, “but they’re all vacant positions. They’ve cut very few actual employees. I don’t know if they cut any of them. What kind of downsizing is that? We’re going to go in there and we’re going to properly streamline government.”

Most of all, said Francis, he’s running for mayor because there are things that need to be done, and he believes he’s the one who can get things accomplished. “We don’t need four more years of a caretaker,” said Francis. “We’re beyond that. We need someone who can get the job done, be forward thinking.”

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Francis promised his administration would be environmentally sensitive.

“We need to talk about using a hybrid fleet (of vehicles),” Francis said. “There’s an organization called grist.org that rates cities on whether they’re environmentally friendly. My goal, after a certain period of time, is to have San Diego be on the top 15 of that list. It’s nice to sign a resolution on global warming but it’s just a piece of paper. You have to put actions into words and words into action. There are things you can do. I would pass an ordinance mandating green standards for building.”

Francis has a detailed 54-page plan on his campaign Web site spelling out his approach to government. Visit www.SteveForMayor.com or e-mailsteve@steveformayor.com.