Soon-to-be-Mayor, Not Known for Bold Moves, Already Made One

Government

Soon-to-be-Mayor, Not Known for Bold Moves, Already Made One

San Diego’s next mayor often has followed other’s lead. In his quick choice for police chief, he showed newfound decisiveness.

Kevin Faulconer hasn’t been a politician known for unexpected moves.

In eight years as a City Councilman, Faulconer often deferred to more outspoken Republican leaders and stuck with vanilla talking points.

But Faulconer, who will be sworn in as mayor Monday, took a different approach toward one of the most significant decisions he’ll make as the city’s chief executive.

In a matter of 24 hours, the mayor-elect accepted longtime Police Chief Bill Lansdowne’s resignation and picked his replacement, forgoing a national search that some city leaders had publicly pushed.

Faulconer nominated Shelley Zimmerman, who is expected to become the city’s first female top cop after a Tuesday City Council confirmation vote. Zimmerman, who has been close with Faulconer for years, will take over a department in the middle of a misconduct scandal.

Interim mayor Todd Gloria and others urged a nationwide search for a new chief. Faulconer said no.

“The San Diego Police Department needs leadership now,” Faulconer said at press conference to announce his preferred police chief.  “Chief Zimmerman is a 31-year veteran and she’s ready to lead.”

The quick choice of Zimmerman marked a newfound decisiveness for Faulconer, who has often left big choices to others, including, famously, the decision of whether he’d run for mayor.

Other big issues are coming quickly.

He’ll have to choose between making a big splash with his spending choices in the city’s next budget or keeping things status quo. Faulconer also will have to decide how much he’ll overhaul the city’s urban revitalization efforts in the wake of a top official’s departure.

Faulconer could stick with the deliberate decision-making tact he usually takes. Or his decisive action on police leadership could be his new normal.

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