SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - One week from Tuesday, San Diegans will choose the city's next mayor in a special election to replace Bob Filner. A recent CBS News 8 viewer poll shows voters put ethics and integrity as their top concern.
We begin with former city attorney Mike Aguirre, who was cantankerous to say the least, when he was in office. However, he's been rather mellow during this campaign, staying out of the negativity and choosing to focus on positive ways to get the city back on track.
Aguirre sees himself as a serious contender for the mayor's job to restore trust in the office tarnished by Bob Filner.
"I come into the office with 40 years of experience really standing up for the people of San Diego, taking on very hard issues," he said.
The quest for a new chargers stadium is nearly 10 years old. Could a Mike Aguirre administration keep the Bolts from bolting?
"Well, if the Bolts bolt out of town I've got to go with them, so I have no interest in them leaving San Diego. I think what the Chargers have done in proposing to put on the ballot a joint-use with the convention center, I think that's something that should be put on the ballot. I think we should put the convention center issue on the ballot as well. We shouldn't dismiss what the Chargers have done. They've actually taken a rather extraordinary step. I support getting that on the ballot," Aguirre said.
A recent CBS News 8 poll indicated great concern about the state of the city's infrastructure, especially regarding streets and sewers. We asked Aguirre what his best solution would be.
"We don't have enough money to pay $300,000 pensions and maintain the roads that require $160 million just to keep them from further disintegration. One of the things I'm going to do is I'm going to go to the public and say I'm not going to pay 100 cents on the dollar for the pensions while I'm paying 10 cents on the dollar for the roads," he replied.
Public safety regarding shrinking ranks in the police department and fewer fire stations also ranked high in our poll. Once again, the former federal prosecutor points to the pension program as part of the problem.
"The pension is now $8 billion, the pension annual payment is $275 million, and we're paying $236 million for our fire department and the police officers that we lost, their salaries were put into the pension, so until we deal with the massive pension problem we have, all those other areas are going to suffer," Aguirre said.
Many citizens are wondering if a new mayor can help put our local schools back in order.
"The best thing that the mayor can do for education is to act like an educated person and to be honest with the people of San Diego. One of the things I intend to do is to replace the lobbyists and what I call the 'pull peddlers' in City Hall with scientists and librarians and researchers and economists and statisticians so that we take the mayor's office out of the PR business and we put the mayor into a real think tank that will generate the ideas that we need to move San Diego forward," Aguirre said.
Former mayor Filner campaigned on a platform of neighborhoods first. CBS News 8 viewers are curious if Aguirre will go down the same path.
"I do think we need to make our neighborhoods livable. We need to get the sidewalks repaired, the libraries open, the rec centers open. We need to make it possible for people to go safely to their local restaurants and do the shopping. But I also feel we need to make sure that all San Diegans are participating in city government, that we appoint from the rich diversity of our city to all the boards and commissions and department heads," he said.
On affordable housing, Aguirre told us he would have rent control for seniors to keep them off the streets.