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A Look at the Future of San Diego: Tag – You’re It!

As the mayoral race continues to heat up in San Diego, the LEAD IMPACT cohort recently heard from mayoral candidates Congressman Bob Filner, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and City Councilman Carl DeMaio in a discussion about the future of our region. The final session of the 10-month experience, was one the cohort will never forget, and the culmination of the program that LEAD CEO Vicky Carlson calls an “MBA in San Diego.”

The topic for the day was “Our Region Tomorrow,” and before hearing from the candidates, attendees discussed regional priorities stemming from the “Our Greater San Diego: Regional Vision Initiative” – a multi-year project that seeks to collaboratively create a 50-100 year strategic vision for the San Diego region through community input.

The priorities – affordability, jobs, education, transportation options, and quality and availability of water – were determined directly by the people of San Diego, reflecting what I believe to be the theme of the day and of the LEAD experience: through effective leadership, we as civic-minded, concerned citizens can determine the future of our region – and the time is now. It was a theme well articulated by San Diego Historian and U-T San Diego reporter Roger Showley at the onset of the day.

After sharing details of San Diego’s rich history, Showley posed a question as to who the true leaders are that move our region forward. “It’s you,” said Showley. “The civic, nonprofit, public leaders that set the agenda – not the politicians.”

While elected officials are certainly critical to our region’s future, and hearing from the mayoral candidates was a unique and valuable experience for me, the day was a reminder that we too play a critical role in the future of San Diego. And while getting consensus among politicians is a daunting task, all the candidates, in their own way, reinforced this theme in their remarks.

On a day filled with discussion about how the candidates see the future, I – and presumably others – found myself asking what I want for the future of San Diego and its residents. The IMPACT class was exposed to numerous important topics during the 10-month program from education to incarceration to the environment and our military. These discussions fed our intellectual curiosity to explore. Further armed with information about our community, our challenge as leaders is to create the kind of San Diego we want to live in, and after working alongside the 2012 class, I know they are up for the challenge.

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