Filner enters race for mayor, promises fixes to city hall - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Filner enters race for mayor, promises fixes to city hall, economy

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Promising to move the city of San Diego forward and restore an economy that gives workers a "livable wage," Rep. Bob Filner, D-Chula Vista, entered the race for mayor Wednesday.

"This ain't an exploratory committee -- this ain't testing the waters -- this is day one of an aggressive campaign to bring government back to the people," Filner said outside the City Clerk's office, where he filed the paperwork to allow him to begin raising funds.

So far, he is the only major Democrat to enter the technically nonpartisan race. Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, is considering whether to try for the mayor's job.

City Councilman Carl DeMaio, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher are all running on the GOP side.

Earlier Wednesday, Mayor Jerry Sanders affirmed his endorsement of Dumanis, who also has the support of Councilman Kevin Faulconer.

Filner served in local government before his 10 terms in Congress and said San Diego has gone downhill during that time.

"The San Diego we all love is at a crossroads," Filner said. "Which way will we go? We have a number of choices, but what I know for sure is we can't go back. We must move forward."

He said moving forward requires a "clean sweep" of City Hall leadership.

The first priority for the mayor will be solving the deficit in the pension system, which cannot be done on the backs of city employees, Filner said. He said he did not support, in its current form, a ballot measure to give new city workers 401(k) retirement plans.

He said he would then work toward returning the economy back to how it was when it was dominated by the defense industry and workers earned a "livable wage." The area's maritime business offers that kind of opportunity, he said.

Ron Nehring, immediate past chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County, called Filner "too liberal" for San Diego, where Democrats hold a registration advantage but rarely win citywide office.

Draft congressional redistricting maps show Filner's district becoming more Latino for the 2012 election, so running for mayor is a retirement plan, Nehring said.

"The new congressional maps all but guarantee Filner could not survive a primary challenge from (state Sen.) Juan Vargas next June, so he's hoping to use the mayor's office for a soft landing," Nehring said.

Filner laughed off the comment and said the Republicans were injecting partisanship into the race on the first day of his campaign.

"Clearly, they're worried," Filner said of the GOP. He said previous changes to the makeup of his district never prevented him from winning.

Sanders said Dumanis has the best experience among the candidates, since the county's top prosecutor is the only one to have run a large public agency.

"Bonnie has a solid reputation of integrity and telling it like it is," said Sanders, who is being termed out. "I trust her to build on the progress we've already made and keep our economy moving, while protecting public safety."

Filner said he doesn't believe voters care who receives endorsements from "downtown power brokers."

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