It has been my honor to serve the people of San Diego’s Second City Council District during my first term in office. I’m running for re-election in the upcoming June primary because I want to continue fighting for fiscal reform, neighborhood services and protecting our beaches and bays.
When I first took office after a January 2006 special election, our city was facing a financial meltdown. There was a lack of transparency and openness, and government waste seemed to be the norm. Working together we’ve made a series of positive changes, and I am proud of our efforts to turn San Diego around.
I have served as Chair of the City’s Audit Committee since its inception in 2006. As Chair, I worked hard to eliminate waste and get the City back in the bond market. It means San Diego is doing what the City was set up to do – improving streets, sidewalks, parks, recreation centers, libraries and making capital improvements.
Recently, I called for the audit of the City’s Bid-to-Goal Program for Water and Wastewater employees, our only incentive-based bonus program. The audit found serious flaws, including the fact that many of the goals would have been achieved without it. The committee voted unanimously in favor of implementing all of the auditor’s recommendations.
Protecting our beaches and bays
In 2008, I took a lead role in drafting and supporting Proposition C, which ensures funds generated in Mission Bay Park are invested there and at other city parks. This measure passed with 67 percent of the vote.
I also campaigned in 2008 to make San Diego’s beaches safer and more family-friendly by supporting the alcohol ban. This measure was supported by voters, and I am pleased that we have finally joined numerous Southern California coastal communities in ensuring a safe environment for those enjoying our beaches.
Years of mismanagement and bad decisions, coupled with our current economic climate, has led to budget deficits, doing more with less and a string of difficult decisions.
During this time, I have voted to scale back employee pay and benefits and support structural budgetary changes. The changes I supported include:
• The creation of a two-tier pension system with smaller pensions for new general member hires, who also now receive a minimal retiree health care benefit with shared funding.
• Permanently freezing retiree health care costs for some employees.
• Eliminating the supplemental pension plan for general member employees and lifeguards (police and firefighters never have received the benefit).
• Proposition B, which says voters must approve any increase in pension benefits.
We have made significant strides while ensuring minimal impacts to core city services, but there’s more to do.
I’m a strong proponent of managed competition because putting city services out to bid will save millions of taxpayer dollars. I will continue to fight for this reform until my council colleagues are on board.
I also want to finish what we started with regard to freezing retiree health care costs. In 2006, non-Medicare eligible retirees each received $7,224 a year. Next year, anyone who retired after July 1, 2009 is eligible to receive $8,880. I’m not arguing against a benefit. I simply want to rein in costs.
I will continue working to eliminate waste while preserving basic neighborhood services and protecting our tax dollars. I hope you will support me in these efforts as I run for re-election June 8.
Faulconer is San Diego City Council President Pro Tem representing the second district, which includes Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, Point Loma, downtown and other neighboring communities. His opinions are his own, and not SDGLN's.