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The unique circumstances of Wednesday’s State of the City address offered the interim mayor a chance few politicians get: the ability to make promises without being held to keeping them.
Interim mayor Todd Gloria effectively just handed the next mayor a long, bold to-do list.
Wednesday night’s State of the City speech offered Gloria a chance to lay out his vision for the city just weeks before San Diegans elect their next mayor. He set large-scale goals for the winner of the Feb. 11 mayoral election to either deliver or defer.
Among the ambitious objectives Gloria laid out Wednesday night were a 2016 ballot measure that would increases taxes to pay for infrastructure repairs, a push to end homelessness downtown by 2016 and his vision for a November ballot measure to increase the city’s minimum wage.
Oh, and he’d also wants San Diego to become a global leader in addressing climate change and to power all the city’s homes and businesses with renewable energy sources by 2035.
Gloria used his time under the lights to emphasize the causes he’s championed. But in just a few weeks, he’ll leave the mayor’s office behind.
The timing of the unique set-up offered the two-term Democratic City Councilman a chance that few politicians get: the ability to make promises without being held to keeping them.
Next month, Gloria will resume his full-time post as City Council president, leading the City Council rather than directly setting the policy tone.
That leaves the next mayor to accept or reject the vision many State of the City attendees cheered on Wednesday night.
Some were more popular with mayoral candidates David Alvarez and Kevin Faulconer than others.
Take Gloria’s mention of a blockbuster minimum wage hike measure he would like the City Council to place on the ballot this November. Alvarez, a fellow Democrat, stood up and clapped when Gloria mentioned it. Faulconer sat quietly, with no hint of a smile or even a polite clap.
Gloria acknowledged his audacity, even as he encouraged residents and city officials to reach for more.
“Some might think that it is impossible to accomplish the objectives I’ve outlined. That the challenges are too great. That the goals are too ambitious. That the resources are too small,” Gloria said. “But that isn’t San Diego. We dare to be great and when we do, we have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”
Indeed, Wednesday night’s speech also gave Gloria the opportunity to detail some of successes the city has seen on his watch.
He celebrated the city’s new Central Library and the recent Coastal Commission approval of the Convention Center expansion, as well as the city’s improving financial situation and recent upgrade of its credit rating.
Gloria also made multiple references to small and large triumphs during his four-month stint as mayor, from the new tram system at Balboa Park to a reorganization of city management.
And he reflected on getting the chance to serve as the city’s interim mayor.
“As a Native American-Filipino-Puerto Rican-Dutch gay guy, and the son of a hotel maid and a gardener, it is fair to say this was not an expected experience,” Gloria said. “It was one I took with a sincere commitment and a heavy heart.”