San Diego Leans Left?

Posted on January 5, 2013 by

California’s second largest city has a progressive mayor, former Democratic U.S. House member Bob Filner who beat his Republican rival by three points in November.

The 70-year old Filner spent 20 years in Congress.  A reliable and articulate liberal – with high marks on his AFL-CIO, ADA and Sierra Club scorecards – he’s a founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and was a “Freedom Rider” during the early sixties civil rights movement, spending two months in jail for “disturbing the peace and inciting a riot.”

Among his first actions as mayor, Filner took on the powerful San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) accusing the investor-owned utility of failing in its commitment to alternative energy.  He has also promised to pay more attention to the city’s neighborhoods which many residents believe have been shortchanged by civic officials who are obsessed with developments downtown and in the “Gaslamp Quarter.”

As the first Democratic mayor of San Diego since 1992, Filner comes into office just a few months after voters passed two measures strongly opposed by unions.  One prohibits project labor agreements on publicly funded construction projects; the other forces new city employees into 401 (k) – style retirement plans.

Bob Filner insists that he will respect the will of the voters on these matters.  But he hasn’t yet told his friends in the Labor Movement exactly how far he will go to implement them.

Comments (8)


  1. Greg says:

    I hope he doesn’t implement those anti-worker measures.

  2. Ethel McClatchey says:

    Thank you, Lou, for including me on your website. I look forward to your incisive comments.

  3. Judith Samuel says:

    Thank you for this post Lou. My son lives in the San Diego area. I just sent him this post.

  4. Jann Whetstone says:

    Hi Lou,

    My friend you know how to start the New Year off right. It’s hard to believe they haven’t had a Democratic mayor since the Clinton Era…poor Diegans.

    I know the Builiding Trades have been fighting long and hard in SD to get those PLA’s (project labor agreements) passed. That being my field I see the fruits of PLA’s and how they’re changing lives in the Los Angeles community.

    Young and not so young men and women are having a hand in building up the city and community, inspiring other who have never even worked a job before want a better “middle class” life. PLA’s have got to be one of the greatest opportunities to make a positive change.
    I had a young man call me from a halfway house wanting to know how he could get in a UNION Apprenticeship because he “sees his roommate going to work everyday, making money and having a FUTURE”, talk about a great answer to recidivism.

    We will pray that Mayor Filner finds a way to bring PLA’s to SD!

  5. [...] post first appeared on and is republished by permission. Los Angeles-based union activist Lou Siegel teaches labor [...]

  6. Thomas J. Mackell, Jr. says:

    It is refreshing to know that some voters are beginning to recognize that voting for candidates like Mayor Filner is a vote for their self-interest.
    That message has to played loud and clear throughout the nation.

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  8. [...] had always respected Bob for his background as a civil rights “freedom rider” and his near perfect record in congress on labor, environmental and other [...]

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