Walter Mencken 6:15 p.m., Feb. 28
What will San Diego's "First Significant Other" do?
Regardless who is elected mayor tonight, San Diego will confront a virtually unprecedented situation.
No need to go into details here. Suffice it to say GOP councilman Carl DeMaio and Democratic congressman Bob Filner, vying for the job, are both currently single, though they reportedly have significant others. Thus the once socially-conservative city's years-long tradition of married - or at least estranged - mayors, with beaming wife or husband at every political beck and call, is coming to an end for now.
Of course, there has been one big exception - and one near exception - along the way.
Republican Susan Golding ran for office still wedded to Democratic hubby Richard Silberman, but filed for divorce in August 1991, before she was elected mayor. He had been convicted and packed off to federal prison as a result of an FBI drug-related money-laundering sting.
Of their 1984 wedding, the San Diego Union wrote: "Silberman, who drove up in a maroon Lamborghini Spada (sic), wore a dark suit and brought video equipment to tape the event...For the wedding, the dark-haired Golding wore a light pink dress, pink stockings, pink shoes and a garland of flowers in her hair."
And Democratic mayor Maureen O'Connor, married to Silberman's erstwhile partner, Republican Jack-in-the-Box magnate Bob Peterson, had a few dust-ups with the genial multi-millionaire, but stuck with him until he died, thus inheriting much of the northern California coastal town of Mendocino, along with a pair of Point Loma mansions, and a few luxury vehicles.
Peterson had met the 25-year-old O'Connor when she was running for city council in 1971. He was 55. The pioneer fast-food mogul kept a condo for O’Connor until their marriage in 1977.
Silberman and Peterson were already rich when their wives sought office, but other San Diego mayoral spouses have come from modest means and managed to profit handsomely from their marital ties to city hall.
Betty Wilson, Republican Pete Wilson's first wife, made piles of cash as a La Jolla real estate broker with the ultimate city hall connection.
As Gale Fox wrote for the Reader in April 1975, "Betty Wilson is the first working mayor’s wife since wartime San Diego. If being thought of as a political asset sounds tag-a-long and passive, she gets to wear an independent, self-starter label in her paid job, as a realtor."
Wilson paid dearly when the couple broke up, as reported by the Reader's Paul Krueger in June 1983: "Last week’s front pages featured a Senator Pete Wilson embracing his new bride, Gayle Graham, following their Washington, D.C. wedding. Missing were photos of Betty Wilson, the senator’s ex-wife."
"The former Mrs. Wilson, however, may have reason to be smiling as well; she has negotiated a divorce settlement which includes alimony payments amounting to $30,000 per year.
"She’ll remain as the primary beneficiary of Senator Wilson’s four life insurance policies. Betty Wilson gets possession of the couple’s two-bedroom Clairemont condominium on Genesee Avenue, and — should she desire — the option to use their controversial manure-to-methane tax shelter on her 1983 federal income tax filing."
Lame duck mayor Jerry Sanders's wife, Rana Sampson, an ex-New York cop, currently enjoys a cozy gig as vice president of "development and marketing" for the non-profit San Diego Center for Children.
The San Diego Business Journal has reported that donors to the center include Sempra Energy, Cox Communications, and Wells Fargo bank, all big players in local politics.
According to the tax-exempt group's latest financial disclosure, filed with the Internal Revenue Service in January of this year, Sampson made $115,183 during the 12 months between July 2010 and June 2011.
Sampson also grossed between $10,000 and $100,000 through her consulting outfit, Community Policing Associates, according to a 2010 disclosure filing by Sanders.
More like this:
- When the San Diego Union libeled Roger Hedgecock — July 15, 2013
- Foundation at heart of O'Connor scandal was big donor to San Diego police; John Burton Foundation — Feb. 14, 2013
- San Diego Mayor's Wife, Top Aide, and Irwin Jacobs Give Big to Barack Obama — Aug. 15, 2012
- Governor Has Big Stake in Firm of Fair Board Appointee's Father — March 2, 2012
- All in the Family — July 22, 1999