Filner promises neighborhood focus for city of San Diego

Bob Filner wins race, Carl DeMaio concedes

SAN DIEGO - Mayor-elect Bob Filner said he will do what he promised voters -- shift political power from what he called "downtown special interests" to the neighborhoods -- and added that he looked forward to working with those who opposed him during the election season.

Filner, who stressed his mandate by holding a late afternoon news conference at a park in University Heights, said residents did not choose a "status quo" administration.

"We have a diversity in this city that has simply not been tapped by those who have had control and power," he said.

"Whether it's people of color, whether it's neighborhoods that have been neglected in terms of their infrastructure, whether it's women, whether it's those who care about education, whether it's those who care about the arts, whether it's those who care about affordable housing and public transportation, they have not been asked to participate in the political and economic decisions of this city," Filner said. "We're going to ask them."

He said there will be new faces on his mayoral staff, among his advisers, on municipal boards and commissions, and among those who receive city contracts.

His remarks came hours after City Councilman Carl DeMaio conceded the race, trailing by about 9,800 votes out of 320,000 cast. Another 475,000 or so absentee and provisional ballots remain to be counted, according to the Registrar of Voters office.

DeMaio told reporters it was possible, but not probable, he could overcome Filner's lead.

"I know that ballots are still being counted, and I will absolutely ensure every vote counts and that process will happen in respect above my decision today to concede this race," DeMaio said. "So every ballot will count, but I want to give our next mayor the most time possible to put together a solid administration and I want to begin the process of healing our city and bringing all sides together."

He said he would help Filner make a successful transition and move San Diego forward. He said he was optimistic to hand Filner a city government that was on the right path to financial recovery.

DeMaio based his campaign on continuing economic changes started under termed-out Mayor Jerry Sanders, who gave the councilman his backing.

Sanders Wednesday issued a statement congratulating Filner.

"He's a long-time San Diegan and my hope is that he will continue to move our city forward with the kinds of reforms that have fueled San Diego's turnaround. I wish him all the best and look forward to working with him to ensure a smooth transition," Sanders said.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, another DeMaio supporter, issued a statement saying he looks "forward to working with (Filner) to ensure that City Hall functions smoothly, effectively and transparently, to the benefit of all."

Despite a narrow win, Filner told 10News he has started his transition into the mayor's seat and not looking back at the acrimony created during the campaign.

"I'm going to call on those who both supported me and opposed me," Filner said.

Filner also said he will not try to derail Proposition B, which will gradually overhaul the city's employee pension system, but he will fight for those workers.

"What we've had for the last four years is a vilification of our public employees and the unions that represent them. That's going to stop. We're going to celebrate our public employees," Filner said.

As for the unions that helped him get elected, he maintains he doesn't feel obligated to them.

"I'm not indebted to anybody in terms of institutional or organizational," said Filner. "I'm very independent."

By his side Tuesday night and during Wednesday's news conference was Filner's fiancée, who he said will play a big part in his administration.

"She's going to work on homeless issues, on issues of disability," said Filner.

For about a half hour, Filner discussed his plans for the city and then fielded some questions from the media with long-winded answers that were not necessarily to the point.

"He tended to run a lot of different ideas together," said political analyst Carl Luna.

He feels mayor-elect Filner should have probably waited a day or so before holding his first press conference to give him a chance to regroup.

"Bob Filner is a colorful personality type," said Luna. "There will be a lot of events like this during the course of his mayorship. The question will be what will he deliver on top of the rambling?"

10News asked Filner his thoughts on U-T San Diego's massive opposition to his candidacy.

He answered, "I've won now 26 elections without their endorsement... so it's been unanimous."

Filner is the first Democrat to be elected mayor of San Diego since Maureen O'Connor in 1988.

If he had won, DeMaio would have become the first openly gay Republican mayor of a large U.S. city.

Filner, who will be San Diego's 35th mayor, is scheduled to be inaugurated Dec. 3 at Golden Hall.

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