While Detroit may have its' list of issues, the one thing San Diego can learn from Detroit is what to do when a mayor mirrored in controversy refuses to step down and allow the city they are supposed to serve wallow in his controversy. To help the city move forward the Mayor needs to resign and leaders in the community, including business leaders, the faith-based community and others must increase their calls for action. Government leaders must do the same. This is not politics and should not be a partisan issue. More specifically, members of the San Diego City Council should take collective action to remove the Mayor.
The President of the San Diego City Council, or whoever is next in-line to become Mayor, must also begin immediate steps in creating a transition plan, ensuring the public that they are on the job and taking back control. Over the next 90 days the new Mayor needs to create a strategy where they remain very visible in the community and in the media. Every day the new Mayor should be talking to people in the community, showing up at places throughout the city, in local restaurants at lunch and away from the city center and in the neighborhoods. This includes meeting with key leaders, including business, faith-based, labor and regional leaders to talk about solutions for moving the city forward. At that time, the new Mayor can start communicating their vision for the city and help shift the focus back to the important issues the city faces.
The new mayor should also meet with the media on a regular basis. Host briefings in their office and otherwise make their schedule public. This also includes the national media as the rest of the country is watching. With each interview, the new mayor must reinforce that they are on the job, have taken control and putting this controversy behind to reinforce what makes San Diego a great city, focus on the vital issues that need attention and offer their vision for moving forward.
But before you have a new mayor, current Mayor Bob Filner has to step aside for the sake of the city's future. It is time to let go of an ego that got the former Mayor of Detroit in jail, not once, not twice but several times. The mayor needs to stop avoiding the media and start talking. Either set the record straight or face up to the mistakes you made. We all have issues, some worse than others and some more public than others. There will be some people that will be forgiving and others will not. However, elected officials have a responsibility to be accountable to the people who elected them and seeking therapy is not the answer.
Rather than seek shelter in therapy, get in front of the issue. The more you let it linger the more you let others talk about you and your city and the more difficult it will be to rebuild your reputation or the city's. Finally, apologize and work hard on finding positive solutions that will help everyone heal and move on to more important issues.
Former South Carolina Governor tried to do it and now he is serving in Congress. Former New York Governor Elliott Spitzer is trying to do it as is former Congressman Anthony Weiner. My mayor, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick did not do it and now sits in prison. However, former Portland Mayor Sam Adams served out his term despite admitting to inappropriate relationships. You can look to other countries as well, including Toronto, Montreal, Italy, Mexico and the Czech Republic for other examples or Mayors and other elected officials go wild.
Unfortunately, in politics and in government, scandals happen. People love power and sometimes the perks of elected offices gets to them. It is no excuse and unfortunately, it is not uncommon, but as Mayor, Bob can take the steps to help everyone move forward and Detroit offers the perfect guide to stepping in that direction.
Daniel Cherrin is the founder of North Coast Strategies and served as the Communications Director for the City of Detroit and Press Secretary to former Detroit Mayor Kenneth V. Cockrel, Jr., following one of the most tumultuous times in Detroit's history, following the resignation of Kwame Kilpatrick.