by Jason Jackson
San Diego’s economic future remains precarious. Kevin Faulconer’s election as Mayor this February forestalled the immediate threat of the city government reverting to the unsustainable fiscal policies that led it to be dubbed “Enron by the Sea,” but he will need allies on the city council to drive economic growth and job creation in the region. While the city’s fiscal situation seems to have stabilized, the region is still losing jobs due to a poor business climate. A number of big name employers have left for greener pastures in recent months, contributing to a net loss of nearly 3,000 civilian jobs in the region since November.
The precarious nature of the city’s fiscal solvency and economic recovery serve to raise the stakes for this year’s city council elections. One candidate who understands how to create jobs and promises to support Mayor Faulconer’s growth and reform agenda is Chris Cate, running for the District 6 seat on the council. Chris is a native San Diegan, and attended college at USD. Soon after graduation Chris became involved in public policy analysis and advocacy, first as an analyst with the San Diego County Tax Payers Association, then as Policy Director to then City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, and ultimately to his current role as Vice President of the SDCTA. Ever humble, Chris seems uncomfortable playing the role of politician, and on the campaign trail prefers to talk policy over politics.
Chris’ number one priority is job creation, and he sees two big threats to job recovery in the region. The first is the movement to raise the minimum wage in the city. “Raising the minimum wage is the absolute wrong move at this time,” Cate said. “It’s the wrong tool to address poverty and government reliance. The right tool is to create jobs, because jobs help move people out of poverty. When we raise the minimum wage we raise the cost of labor and discourage job growth, while at the same time businesses are encouraged to invest in things like automation rather than increasing payrolls.”
A second threat that Cate identifies is an unpredictable business climate created by government intervention and exacerbated by the city’s bureaucracy. As a first step toward creating more job growth, Cate advocates a do no harm approach. “We need to reduce uncertainty and stop doing things that inhibit growth through taxation and regulation, and make it easier for businesses to work with City Hall. We have a 20th century bureaucracy supporting a 21st century economy. We need to streamline the bureaucracy and embrace technology so that entrepreneurs and businesses can better anticipate what to expect.”
Beyond those issues, Cate hopes to influence a culture change at City Hall. He wants to see city leadership articulate a clearer strategic plan, one that focuses not just on broad themes, but also offers specific policy objectives and outlines how success will be measured against those objectives. Above all he wants to continue the work that led him to politics in the first place, involving the public and holding government accountable. “I want to continue to get people active and encourage them to hold their elected representatives accountable. My job at the Taxpayer Association was to analyze issues and translate them so people outside of politics can understand them and get involved. That remains my goal, increasing the people’s accessibility to government and the accountability of government to the people.”
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Jason Jackson graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2002. After graduation, he deployed as a naval officer in support of the War on Terrorism, earning the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, and numerous campaign and unit citations for his service in the conflict. He has a master’s degree in Political Science from San Diego State University, and a law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, CA. He was a contributing author to the war memoir, In the Shadow of Greatness, and has also written several papers on constitutional law and election law. To learn more about Jason click here for his personal website.
The column above was published on the author’s blog, jeffersonjackson.com, in May, and appears on SD Rostra with Mr. Jackson’s permission.