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Mayoral candidate seeks student support

by Sandy Coronilla

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bob filner

Former San Diego State professor Bob Filner is running for mayor of San Diego, and he is asking for the student vote.

Filner has a lengthy public service record and currently represents California’s 51st district in Congress. Previously, he served as the president on the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education, as well as on the San Diego City Council.

Now, he says he wants to engage today’s youth just as he was inspired in his youth to become involved during the civil rights movement.

“Political activity as a young person gave me a sense of optimism about change,” he said. “I think young people should be involved. They don’t understand their own power.”

Filner said if he is San Diego’s next mayor, he will have students in his administration.

“They have great ideas,” he said.

Filner was a professor at SDSU for 20 years. He has plenty to say about the California State University system and the recent salary debate that continues to be a major concern across the state.

“On the one hand, people argue that you have to have these big salaries to attract quality people,” he said. “On the other hand they’re way out of whack.”

He said executives are not doing anything significantly more difficult to justify the large salaries they receive. Filner, who said he was paid $35,000 annually when he taught at SDSU, said the CSU underestimates the quality of administrators who can be hired for less.

“I think what gnaws on people is that we’re cutting back, we’re cutting expenses. Your scholarships are being reduced, your class size is being raised and then they give this guy a huge salary,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Filner said he sees a correlation between the energy of protesters in the Civil Rights movement and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

“The weakness of the Occupy movement is that there are no real programs, specific demands,” Filner said. “There’s a general feeling that society is unjust and too few people have too much power, which is all true.”

He said he met with Occupy protesters in different cities throughout the country and asked what should be done, but did not receive concrete answers.

“You have to at some point have a program. Unless you do, why are you there?” he said.

Filner said there are three major issues currently facing San Diego.

“The top issue for anybody is jobs. Livability and sustainability issues. How do you get mass transit, affordable housing and environmental protections at the same time? And neighborhood power,” Filner said.

However, he did not include a new Chargers stadium as one of the issues.

“I love the Chargers, I’m glad we have a professional team, but you know the Chargers are a private business owned by a private guy who has a billion dollars and makes a lot of money,” Filner said. “Why does he need a public subsidy? Why should the taxpayers subsidize his private business and profit-making?

“Especially when most of those people paying those taxes won’t even be able to afford to get into the games,” he said.

He pointed to the Green Bay Packers as an example of a team owned by its city. In comparison to the games held at Qualcomm Stadium, he said their stadium has been filled during every game for the last 50 years.

“There’s not a sense of, literally, ownership of the team,” he said. “If they said we’ll participate in the city more, we’ll give you a public ownership stake in it, I might talk to them. Otherwise, no public subsidies.”

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