SDSU senior prepares for his mayoral campaign

Photo courtesy of Michael Kemmer

Photo courtesy of Michael Kemmer

by Arturo Garcia Sierra

Just two weeks after former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner resigned, 16 people have already registered to run for the primary elections— including 22-year-old management of information systems and political science senior Michael Kemmer.

“There’s no reason why I can’t,” Kemmer said. “What sets anyone else apart from me? Nothing.”

His campaign team described Kemmer as an idea guy and his campaign acronym will be SUSTAIN: San Diegans United for Sustainable Technology and Innovation Now.

“We’re really focusing on technology,” Kemmer said. “The city is outdated. Everything else is modern, more or less, but if you go down to City Hall, everything is done by hand; it’s all paper.”

[quote]What sets anyone else apart from me? Nothing.[/quote]

Kemmer said his plan is to push San Diego to the “city of the future” concept, where “you can use off-the-shelf technology and apply it to issues we have now.”

An example he cited for this concept is Pittsburg’s transit system. Kemmer said the busses have GPS on them, and if they are running late, the GPS will notify the street light, turn green and allow the bus to stay on time. The system increased ridership because the transit system became more reliable, Kemmer said.

“It’s not creating anything new; it’s taking what’s already there and applying it in a different way, and that’s the goal in this,” Kemmer said.

So far his team includes a campaign manager–journalism and media studies senior Stephanie Ginsberg who is also his roommate–and political science senior Joseph Bruno as his regional political director, with whom he also plays the saxophone, Kemmer said.

Ginsburg said the campus reaction to Kemmer’s mayoral campaign has been positive and supportive.

“Between all of our own networks on campus, we’ve pretty much found every answer we’ve been looking for,” Ginsberg said. “No one’s left the conversation saying, ‘That’s not going to happen.’ Everyone is like ‘Dude, that’s awesome. How can I help?’”

Kemmer is shooting a commercial to be released after campaigning officially begins this Friday, which will be edited by students. His website is also being developed by SDSU students.

“Everyone’s a skeptic, but then they’re like, ‘All right, you’ve got something there,’” Kemmer said.

Kemmer doesn’t let his young age set him back, instead it motivates him. Kemmer said during his internships at four different Fortune 500 companies, he learned to appreciate the role of the inexperienced intern by turning it into the proactive role of the person whose fresh outlook is able to spot a system’s malfunctions.

“That’s sort of the mindset we’re going into this with,” Kemmer said. “What can we make better and more efficient? Because when you’re in the middle of something–and you’ve been in it for so long–you just say, ‘Well, that’s the way it is.’ They don’t question it.”

Kemmer said he plans to graduate this December. The main goal of his campaign is to encourage voter registration, he said, and this Friday he will start collecting signatures to be on the ballot; he needs 2,200. The special election is planned for Nov. 19.