San Diego Mayoral candidates Donna Frye and Jerry Sanders were each asked to sit down for on-the-record interviews. Sanders's campaign press secretary, Scott Maloni, initially agreed to the interview, then called back to say that Sanders would accept only if the questions were submitted in advance and declined the invitation.
Donna Frye sat down with us on October 14.
Why do you want to be mayor?
Because I want to correct this city, and I want to get us back to reality. I live here. I grew up here. I wasn't born here, but I was raised here. And I think that if Jerry Sanders gets elected, nothing's going to change.
Because he doesn't care about the city's problems?
It's not a case that he doesn't care about them. I'm sure he cares about them in his own way. I don't think anything will change because the same people that got us here are the same people that are supporting Jerry Sanders, are the same people that are advising Jerry Sanders, are the same people that are saying, "Let's go issue more debt. Let's go sell off city assets. Let's wait until a court decides." He has John Witt [the former city attorney] advising him at a news conference this week about the illegal benefits! These were the guys that were sitting in the room advising people to vote on underfunding [the pension system], and that's who Sanders uses as his advisor? Are you kidding? It's the same old stuff!
Mike Aguirre says that the councilmembers were essentially involved in a criminal conspiracy. Do you think they were involved in a criminal conspiracy?
Um, it's hard for me to answer that question, because there's a lot of information I don't have. There are certain e-mails that I'm starting to see -- I'd never seen them before. I'll reserve judgment.
So did Mike have information that you didn't have?
No, those documents are starting to be released to the public. Not that Mike Aguirre had any documents that I didn't have; it's that much of this documentation was just not available. It had not been released. The waiver of attorney-client privilege -- some of those documents are starting to come out, and I bet you there's a whole lot more in there! I never had a chance to go through -- however many? -- 60,000 documents? I'd like to!
Do you think it's appropriate for a city attorney to make comments about councilmembers having violated the law?
Yes, I do. I think that the way I read the charter, when we had that meeting this week, it was real clear to me. It says, "has a duty, and an obligation" -- I believe are the words -- "to prosecute." I thought that was fairly clear, what his duties and obligations are.
One of the criticisms of you is that you're too cozy with City Attorney Mike Aguirre.
And that Mike will have too much power over you if you're elected mayor.
In fact, we asked him about the cartoon the Municipal Employees Association sent out.
Oh, with me on his lap? I know I looked lovely.
Aguirre said that you've never sat on his lap.
No, I have not sat on his lap to the best of my knowledge. I might've sat on his lap. It's hard to remember. I don't remember, you know. There might have been an occasion when I sat on Michael Aguirre's lap. No, I'm joking!
It's funny. People talk about, they complain because they say, "Well, golly, we need to have a better -- we need to make sure someone has a good relationship with the city attorney so they can get things done and work cooperatively." And then when you work cooperatively with the city attorney so you can get things done, they say, "Well, that's too cozy. 'Cause now they're working cooperatively and they might get something done." And that's really the fear. It's not that it's too cozy. It's that we work well together and will get something done and get to the bottom of it and get the city back on track.
And that is a concern, because a lot of people that have held power for a very long time might not have as much control over what goes on at city hall, and it might, for once in how many years, actually get back to serving the public interest. And wouldn't that be nice? And there's a lot of people that have a lot at stake and a lot to lose if that happens. 'Cause the pie gets split up a certain way now -- well, it would get split up quite a bit different, and the public could get a very large chunk of that again. I don't know, it's just funny to me. It's like people say, "Well, you need to have someone who gets along with him." Well, I do. I like him. We get along well. Do I always agree with him? No. Does he control me? You've got to be kidding me. Do you think anyone controls me? Good luck!
Strong Mayor -- Not City Greeter
Under the new system, the mayor is essentially the CEO of the city. Will you act as a CEO?
So you won't hire someone to be CEO?
I won't have a city manager or a COO or a CEO, no. I will have cabinet-level department heads, secretaries; I haven't come up with a name yet.
So you won't have your version of a Ronne Froman [the Red Cross chief whom Sanders, if elected, has tapped as his CEO]?
No. No, thank you. I will actually be the mayor. I'm not going to be the city greeter.
And why should the voters feel that you have the experience to run a $2 billion corporation?
Well, why would they not? It's funny to me. I look at the Harvard-educated Dick Murphys. I look at the -- and who was before Dick?