I believe that public officials should be fully transparent, always act lawfully, and consistently strive to reinforce (rather than undermine) the public’s trust in government.
As a lawyer, I’ve been defending these values in court on behalf of like-minded clients for more than 20 years. Too many elected officials do not share those values. That’s true of past City Attorneys, and it’s true of incumbent City Attorney Mara Elliott.
By not accepting campaign donations from City lobbyists, I am showing my commitment to running a non-political City Attorney's Office.
I am running both to restore the role of the City Attorney’s Office to giving straight-up, non-political legal advice to the Mayor and City Council so they can do what’s in their constituents’ best interests; and overall to improve the public’s confidence in government. I have done my best from outside City Hall. It’s now time for me to give San Diegans my best efforts from the inside.
Over multiple administrations, the City Attorney’s Office has been run as a political office rather than as a law office. Consequently, the Mayor and City Council have not been given straight-up legal advice oriented to their constituents’ best interests, instead of receiving politically motivated advice intended to advance the City Attorney’s personal agenda.
That approach has harmed voters and taxpayers time and again, and they have justifiably lost confidence in City government.
With the right leadership, the City Attorney’s Office can play a vital role in protecting the public’s interest and San Diegans' quality of life. It can do this by ensuring that government officials operate within the boundaries of the law. Competent, unbiased, non-political legal advice for the Mayor and City Council is therefore essential.
While the City Council and Mayor will be my client’s decision-makers -- and I will protect their interests as the public’s representatives every step of the way -- my advice to them will always be influenced, first and foremost, by the oath I took as a lawyer to uphold the rule of law. That means giving honest, informed, fully transparent legal advice free of taint from any political agenda.
Bad legal advice and bad legal outcomes under incumbent City Attorney Mara Elliott will cost San Diego taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and contribute to a deterioration in our neighborhoods’ quality of life.
If I am City Attorney, you won’t see the City Attorney’s Office trying to gut the California Public Records Act or prevent the public from getting information. You will see the City’s compliance with disclosure laws improve significantly.
If I am City Attorney, you won’t see the Office waging court battles against the voters. You will see voter-approved initiatives vigorously and tirelessly defended.
If I am City Attorney, you won’t see the City losing court battles for criminalizing homelessness. You will see the Office providing solid, proactive legal advice that helps the Mayor and City Council implement solutions that help people get off the streets while simultaneously reducing crime.
And if I am City Attorney, you won’t see the Office fraught with conflicts of interest -- things like a deputy city attorney defending the City against lawsuits by the deputies’ union, or deputies running City-subsidized private organizations on the side, or deputies ordered to fabricate criminal charges against political opponents. If ever there is potential for a conflict of interest while I’m the City Attorney, it will be avoided altogether or the Office will step aside so that the Mayor and City Council can bring in outside counsel.
For all these reasons and more, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to put my experience, judgment, and commitment to the public interest to work for the voters and taxpayers of San Diego. There is only so much I can do from the outside. It’s time for me to do what I can from the inside.