San Diego Strong Mayor, Measure D (June 2010)

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A San Diego Strong Mayor, Measure D ballot proposition was on the June 8, 2010 ballot for voters in the City of San Diego in San Diego County, where it was approved.

Measure D made San Diego's 5-year experiment with a strong-mayor system of governance permanent, added a ninth seat to the City Councll and raised the threshold to override a mayoral veto of a Council action from a simple majority to a two-thirds super-majority.[1]

Mayor Jerry Sanders had been serving as a Strong Mayor since the experiment began.

If Measure D had been rejected, San Diego would have reverted to a city manager form of governance in January 2011.[1]

Measure D was on the ballot in the wake of the approval of Proposition B on June 3, 2008.

Election results

Measure D
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 120,107 60.35%
No78,89739.65%
These final, certified results are from the Sand Diego County elections office.

Support

Supporters

  • Mayor Jerry Sanders
  • John Davies
  • Bill Geppert, Cox senior vice president

Arguments in favor

Supporters included Mayor Jerry Sanders and John Davies, an attorney who co-chairs the "Yes on D" campaign. Davies said that under the "weak mayor" system, "The power all resides in the council and none of them are elected citywide so it doesn’t seem to me that that’s a very democratic system."[2]

Bill Geppert, a Cox senior vice president, said, "In the view of our company and others in the business community it would be a taking a significant step backwards to go to a city-manager form of government."[3]

Donors

Cox Communications, a cable and internet company, gave $24,000 of free air-time to the "Yes on D" campaign, and donated at least $21,000 to the campaign warchest.

Pomerado Newspapers gave $300 worth of free advertisements to the "Yes on D" campaign and the San Diego Community News Group, owner of the La Jolla Village News and Beach & Bay Press, gave $150 worth of free ads.[3]

Opposition

The Queer San Diego Democratic Club voted on April 22 to oppose Measure D after hearing City Councilmember Donna Frye in a debate before the group. Frye has served on the city council under both the city-manager and strong-mayor systems. Comparing her experiences with the two different governance systems, Frye said that when it comes to accountability, the Strong Mayor system has not worked well for her. It has proven hard for her to get the information she needs to make responsible decisions, Frye said in the debate, to the point where she's had to threaten legal action against the city to be given data about city operations she requested.[4]

Strong Mayor governance

Under the Strong Mayor form of city governance, the mayor serves as the city's chief executive officer, overseeing day-to-day operations, drafting the budget and heading labor negotiations. A Strong Mayor does not have a vote on the city council but does have the right of veto.

The City Council has final approval of budget and land-use issues.

The "city manager" form of governance is the best-known alternative to a Strong Mayor form of governance.

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Shall the charter be revised to make permanent the Strong Mayor form of governance; add a Ninth council seat; and, when the ninth seat is filled, increase the Council votes required to override a mayoral veto to a two-thirds vote?[5]

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