Bob Filner sworn in as San Diego's 35th mayor: Inaguaration held at Balboa Park Club

SAN DIEGO - Bob Filner promised to implement his vision of empowering neighborhoods when he was sworn in Monday as the city's 35th mayor during an inauguration ceremony in Balboa Park.

Re-elected City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and two newly elected and three returning members of the City Council also took the oath of office.

Filner, a former 10-term congressman from the South Bay, defeated departing Councilman Carl DeMaio in last month's general election to succeed Jerry Sanders. He based his campaign on giving power at City Hall to neighborhoods instead of what he called downtown special interests.

"We mark a new day and beginning for the city … The major focus of my administration will be to put our neighborhoods first," Filner told an overflow audience at the Balboa Park Club.

He said in his 15-minute address that he wanted community plans to be completed; to revitalize infrastructure; improve emergency services in areas affected by the 2003 and 2007 wildfires; and to make every neighborhood "safe to live, work and play."

A single mother in San Ysidro should have the same decision-making power as a City Hall insider, Filner said.

He also said he would push to equip municipal buildings with solar panels, increase port business and jobs, collaborate with Mexico and keep the Chargers in San Diego. He did not mention details on the latter issue.

Filner thanked his predecessor for stabilizing San Diego's fiscal picture during his two terms in office, saying it gives him a chance to move the city forward.

"After nearly a decade of crises and cutbacks, we finally have a chance to look ahead, begin planning for a brighter future," said Filner, the first Democrat to hold the office in 40 years.

The new mayor previously served on the City Council and San Diego Unified School District Board of Education and was a professor at San Diego State University.

Filner was heavily backed in the election by organized labor.

"He's a candidate of the labor unions, and I think San Diego taxpayers have a reason to be concerned," said Tony Krvaric, chairman of San Diego County's Republican Party.

Lorena Gonzalez, who heads the San Diego Labor Council, responded, "Our goal is to create jobs for all of San Diego, union or not and now I think we have a mayor who will lead in that."

Filner promised to implement Proposition B, the voter approved pension reform measure, if it's upheld by the courts.

Richard Rider of San Diego Tax Fighters said, "If Filner and the City Council decide to ignore those reforms, I have no doubt they'd be facing a recall."

Filner called his swearing in "a new beginning," and former mayoral candidate and longtime Democratic advocate Donna Frye couldn't agree more.

"Just look at the makeup of those in the audience, the enthusiasm and excitement, it's a whole different group of people, and that's a good thing," she said.

Sanders, who thanked his wife, staff and members of the City Council as he ended his second term, was rewarded with a standing ovation that lasted about 30 seconds. His speech drew the two-hour ceremony's biggest laugh when he noted that the happiest days in office are the first and last, and in comparison to his successor, he was "the luckier man."

Sanders and his wife, Rana Sampson, are scheduled to embark on a three-month vacation to Italy early next month. When they return, he will take over as CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Besides Goldsmith, those sworn in included returning council members Marti Emerald, Todd Gloria and Sherri Lightner and newcomers Mark Kersey and Scott Sherman.

Gloria, who was named council president, said he would maintain the body's fiscal discipline and make reforms passed in recent years permanent. He also said he would be aggressive in pushing for infrastructure improvements, try to end homelessness in downtown and spruce up Balboa Park for its 2015 centennial.

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