It was the most important, transformative action taken by the city in decades, rivaling the decision in 1959 to transfer Pueblo lands north of La Jolla to the University of California.
President Kennedy famously said that victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan. But for this victory, one “parent” stands out.
Were it not for Barbara Bry’s courageous leadership, Friday’s victory would never have happened.
Recall that in early 2017, after the owner of the Chargers football team announced he was moving the team to Los Angeles, an investment group revealed they had been meeting secretly with city officials for nearly a year, and had created a 3,000-page initiative to mandate sale of the stadium property for development of a shopping mall and soccer stadium. They touted poll results showing nearly two-thirds of voters supported their plan. Elected officials and political insiders flocked to support their initiative.
Unlike many of those “leaders,” newly-elected City Councilmember Barbara Bry took the time to actually read their initiative. Applying her business and development experience, she came to the conclusion that SoccerCity was actually a massive give-away of a valuable public asset.
Barbara became the first elected official to oppose the initiative, earning the enmity of project promoters and their political allies. Then, when supporters of SDSU drafted a competing initiative to authorize sale of the property for an expanded university campus, she was the first elected official to endorse SDSU West.
In 2018, San Diego voters decisively defeated the SoccerCity measure and approved SDSU West, establishing clear guidelines for sale of the property to SDSU. At that point, voters assumed the matter had been settled. But insiders who opposed Measure G worked overtime to scuttle the sale. SoccerCity promoters went so far as to recruit and fund the mayoral campaign of a candidate who opposed Measure G, in the hope of reviving their plan. City bureaucrats conducted negotiations with SDSU behind closed doors for over a year and made demands that went far beyond the provisions of voter-approved Measure G, including provisions that would have scuttled an agreement.
Again, Barbara Bry stepped in, demanded that the state of negotiations be made public, and rallied public support for an outcome that kept faith with the will of voters. Once again, Barbara ruffled the feathers of political insiders by exposing the effort to subvert the will of voters.
But in the end, the public pressure forced city negotiators to back off their most outrageous demands and paved the way for a resolution that was in the public interest.
The city of San Diego has a number of challenges, from competent management of its real estate assets to hundreds of millions of dollars of deferred maintenance, seemingly intractable homelessness and an economy that will be struggling to recover from impacts of the current pandemic. These and other challenges will not be overcome by go-along-to-get-along politicians.
Barbara Bry demonstrated on Friday – as she has repeatedly during her career – that she has the courage and independence to move our city forward.
If you agree that’s what our city needs, then we need your help.
Barbara’s opponent is supported by the largesse of insiders who want to preserve the status quo. Fortunately, voters want new, more effective leadership, but unless our campaign has the resources to communicate our message, she will not prevail. Please consider making a contribution today. If you contributed during the March primary, you can contribute up to $1,150 again for the general election. Ask yourself how much it’s worth for you and your family to have the kind of leadership at City Hall that produces solutions instead of more politics as usual.
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Consultant, Barbara Bry for Mayor