Dear San Diego Neighbors,

It was a little over four years ago when I set out to run for City Council.

Barbara Bry, San Diego City Council District 1 Inauguration, 2016

The last place I thought I would be today is running for Mayor.

Before running for the Council, I had never sought elective office. But I had a pretty good idea about how government worked. After all, I had been active in the community for many years.

I had covered politicians as a journalist and worked with them as an entrepreneur. I had been a leader in organizing and supporting causes and candidates I believed in for years. I served on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood and founded organizations such as Athena San Diego and Run Women Run that have provided pathways for women into the tech industry and into public service, respectively.

When I won the City Council seat, I was prepared to hit the ground running.

What I found at City Hall is not what I expected. And what I found is something every San Diego resident has a right to know.

Bluntly put, this City is a mess.

We did not get there -- could not get there -- overnight. Each day I encounter issue after issue in which decisions are made with either no information or bad information.

●      No long term data-driven plan for addressing the homeless crisis.

●      No comprehensive plan for managing the City’s massive real estate portfolio.

●      No critical infrastructure inventory.

●      Not even a simple game plan for employee recruitment and retention.

I found a City that lurches from one shortsighted decision to the next. A political class that confuses headlines with accomplishment. And little concern for, or understanding of, how the City got to where it is. There is an old saying in business, “If you don’t know how you got there, it’s hard to find your way out.”

I have always worked hard to be a good learner. In fact, I attribute much of my success in business to recognizing that our first ideas are not necessarily our best ideas. When you run a tech business, rapid change is the rule. So, my first instinct was, “Ok, I just need to learn the ropes around here and I’ll figure this out.”

But then the record of bad deals started piling up.

Soccer City … Fifth Avenue Landing … Acela Software … The purchase of the old Sempra Building...

Barbara Bry at the Sacramento Bee, 1976

But I’m a learner. So, I kept at it. Called on my journalism experience. I kept digging. I set aside my political hat for my management hat.

I asked the questions any good CEO, or mom, would ask: “Who decided to do this?” “Why did you decide to do this?” “How long have you been doing this?”

The more I asked, the more I realized just what an outsider I was. These “mistakes,” just like the embarrassing condition of our crown jewel, Balboa Park, aren’t mistakes at all. They are simply the inevitable result of systemic dysfunction. A dysfunction that has been firmly ingrained in the culture of City leadership for many, many years.

 I kept learning until I realized that the choices put in front of me as a councilperson were inadequate. Even the best efforts of bright young councilmembers would ultimately fail.

You can’t successfully deploy a groundbreaking pure water program or initiate community choice energy aggregation if the City can’t even read a water meter

My experience and understanding of capital markets, the innovation economy, and the role local governments can play to land more higher wage jobs and broaden the City’s tax base is what will make for a strong Mayor.

My vision for San Diego comes out of my experience as an entrepreneur and my long-time involvement with science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM). 

Some key objectives:  Downtown must become a thriving technology and arts center that provides training and employment for those living in and around downtown.

SDSU West can also be an economic engine for the city by replicating the success of UCSD as a job incubator.

The City has an amazing untapped potential in communities south of Highway 94 already served by the trolley.

A strong Mayor can use these assets to lure Fortune 500 companies as well as to nurture local entrepreneurship.

Barbara Bry on Community Choice Energy, 2018

We can’t leave any San Diegan behind.

And realistically, we can’t meet our climate goals without addressing the geographic misalignments that characterize our current “reverse” commute environment.

It is both an economic and an environmental imperative.

You are going to have choices this election. There certainly will be candidates with more political experience

But there will be no other candidate in this race with my breadth of background and experience. And I believe that experience is what sets me apart.

I believe it is my experience that has led me to stake out a position on land use and zoning that I am alone in fighting for.

Put simply, I believe in every neighborhood's right to participate in and plan its own future. A strong Mayor takes her ideas from the neighborhoods south of 94, Mission Valley, downtown and North City. That’s why we have community planning groups. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for land use and planning.

That’s why I have opposed the so-called “YIMBY” agenda at City Hall to waive height limits and parking requirements, and opposed legislation in Sacramento that would convert single family R1 zoned neighborhoods into high-density apartments.

I understand the Wall Street money backing these schemes. I am sure that many of the folks promoting these ideas are sincere and simply naïve about the real money and the real motivations behind the YIMBY campaign. But I have raised investment capital. I see exactly what they are up to. And it will be extremely profitable for them if they can get the politicians to do their work for them. 

This is also why I am far more skeptical about early stage start-ups like rideshare scooters. I’m a tech person. I’m all for “the sharing economy” as part of our future. But I’m not about to hand the keys to the City over to a bunch of speculators.

I don’t want to dismantle our neighborhoods with high rises and fourplexes. I want your kids and grandkids to want to live here. And I want them to be able to afford to live here. I have already begun to unwind the City’s bureaucratic and punitive building permit process. Lowering the cost to build can help.

But we are not going to make San Diego “affordable” by simply building more highrise apartments without parking spaces.

The best path to home affordability is a better paying job. We need to diversify our employment base to provide more, better-paying jobs.

I voted for and will continue to vote for increasing densities along transit corridors where it makes sense. But we have plenty to keep us busy in the urban core. Before we start telling folks in Tierrasanta or Rancho Penasquitos that they have to accept the dismantling of their single-family residential neighborhoods, we ought to see if we can get downtown right first.

So, here I am, running for Mayor for reasons I could never have anticipated.

 But you can be certain of one thing:  I will be the outsider.

That’s ok. It was the same for me when I entered the tech world. I learned. I succeeded. I want to bring that path of success to City Hall. That means challenging the status quo and the entrenched special interests.  The City has good people who want to do good things. I need your help to get them off circular path of recycling ideas and put them on the path to success.

If every day you learn something new, you are 365 times more valuable by the end of the year.

As for myself. I can only promise you this: I will always be open with you about my ideas and conscious of the fact that my ideas will only get better by listening to yours.


Barbara Bry

A long-term commitment to San Diego

I will bring leadership that puts solutions for San Diegans first, prioritizes fiscal discipline, stands up to the special interests, treats all residents and communities fairly, and creates comprehensive solutions to long-standing problems.

Why I'm Running

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