San Diego interviews semi-finalists this week for key budget work that checks the mayor’s power


Two panels this week are interviewing semifinalists for San Diego’s independent budget analyst position, which city council members and community leaders say is a crucial position to check the mayor’s power.

Two or three finalists are expected to emerge from interviews and face questions next week from the full board in sessions closed to the public.

The independent budget analyst helps the council analyze the mayor’s budget and legislative proposals with expertise and precision.

Thirty-six people applied for the job, and a city-hired recruiter deemed 12 of them highly qualified, but the recruiter said the candidate pool could be considered disappointing.

San Diego’s relatively low pay and relatively high cost of living make the job less attractive to some candidates from outside the area, said recruiter Pam Derby of CPS HR in Sacramento.

The city has thousands of vacancies that officials attribute to relatively low salaries compared to the private sector and other government agencies.

“We’re swimming upstream when it comes to IBA recruiting the same way we’re swimming upstream when it comes to staffing throughout our city,” Council Chairman Sean Elo-Rivera said.

Also, Mayor Todd Gloria is simultaneously trying to hire a COO for the city. That job will earn between $300,000 and $400,000 a year, while former IBA Andrea Tevlin was getting $250,000 a year, Derby said.

Panels conducting interviews with the semi-finalists, which include council members and local residents, are expected to select two or three finalists for full-council interviews next week in sessions closed to the public.

But an Elo-Rivera spokesperson said Wednesday that the number of finalists remains flexible and will be based on this week’s semifinalist interviews. The number of semi-finalists has also not been revealed, but will be at the end of the process.

According to public forums and an online survey, local residents want the new IBA to be independent, creative, transparent and honest. They also want the new IBA to understand the culture of San Diego and be prepared to push back against the council and the mayor.

The position was created in 2005 when San Diego transitioned to a “strong mayor” form of government. When Tevlin retired last month, her No. 1 lieutenant, Jeff Kawar, was tapped to replace her on an interim basis.


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