San Diego Cities Block Republican Mayors From SANDAG, Leaving Board With Dem Majority

The stakes are higher than ever for the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). That has left cities in San Diego making unorthodox choices about who will represent them on the board — and in some cases, choosing no representatives at all. 

The Chula Vista City Council appointed Councilmember Andrea Cardenasas as its representative on the SANDAG board of directors Tuesday. It was an unusual choice. Many cities, including Chula Vista, have historically appointed their mayors to the board. But the local Democratic Party urged council members to take a different tack this time because voters elected a Republican, John McCann, in the November mayor’s race. All of Chula Vista’s sitting council members are Democrats.

The vote leaves SANDAG with a Democratic majority

Meanwhile, Vista council members were unable to agree who should represent them. Newly elected Mayor John Franklin, also a Republican, nominated himself for the seat. The city’s new Democratic Council majority blocked his confirmation. Members were unable to agree on an alternative, so the city now has no representation on the board. 

As Voice of San Diego reports, a similar scenario previously played out in Escondido. The Republican council majority removed Mayor Paul McNamara as the SANDAG representative and blocked his attempt to nominate another Democrat. That left Escondido without SANDAG representation for almost a year. 

The ideological makeup of the board could have major implications for future transportation policy and the fate of the “road user charge” in particular. That idea, proposed by Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata, would charge the county’s drivers for each mile they drive. 

The mileage tax was at the heart of the Vista and Chula Vista councils’ actions. Both McCann and Franklin would have opposed the usage charge as members of the board.


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