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For the first time, all four mayoral candidates were set to address business leaders at a breakfast held at Cucina Urbana on the morning of November 18. Nathan Fletcher, however, canceled at the last minute due to his son’s appendicitis surgery.

Carl DeMaio, Bonnie Dumanis, and Bob Filner attended the gathering hosted by the San Diego chapter of the National Latina Business Women Association. NBC 7 news anchor Catherine Garcia moderated the hourlong forum.

In between the candidates’ opening and closing statements, Garcia asked the following five questions: 1) How would you describe your reputation, and how will it define your time as mayor? (10 min. mark); 2) What steps will you take to improve the business climate in San Diego? (15:30); 3) The Census Bureau reports that Hispanic-owned businesses continue to double at more than the national rate and Latina-owned firms at four times the national rate. How would your administration’s priorities reflect and understand these trends and support this growth in San Diego? (22 mins.); 4) Tell us about a successful negotiation that you have conducted. (28); 5) Based on your personal experience as a resident, what does quality of life in San Diego mean to you?

Given only a few minutes to respond to each question, the candidates stuck to their campaigns’ key speaking points, with all of them discussing the need for job growth. DeMaio and Dumanis both said that in order to create jobs, the city would have to get its own financial house in order; they both emphasized their support for the pension-reform measure on June’s ballot.

DeMaio said that government does not create jobs and that our economic recovery will arise from the small businesses’ ability to thrive. Dumanis touted the district attorney’s office record of employment diversity as an example of how as mayor she would make sure every citizen is included in the economic recovery. Both candidates stated that support for small businesses would be an essential component for creating jobs.

Filner spoke about beginning his political career in jail while fighting for civil rights, stressing that he understands what it takes to include every citizen in the democratic process and that it is not just about the city’s finances or permits, but also about making sure vital programs such as the arts and education are not abandoned. He called the pension-reform plan supported by the other candidates (Fletcher included) as a way of throwing the city’s workers under the bus.

Filner disagreed with DeMaio’s opinion and stated that the government can and does create jobs; he cited investments in alternative energy as one of the proven methods of success.

According to Dumanis and DeMaio, good quality of life for San Diegans means having pride in their neighborhoods; they both used the opportunity to discuss how the city has failed its citizens by not having the resources to fix roads, maintain parks and beaches, clean up graffiti, and offer a safe haven for children.

Filner, a downtown resident, stated that he enjoys the easy access to a variety of restaurants, art, and cultures, something that ten years ago was not an option for downtown residents; he said that everyone’s quality of life would improve if the city embraced diversity, arts, and education.

For the most part, the candidates remained cordial to one another and all expressed optimism about San Diego’s ability to recover from the current economic state.

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