LA MESA – Mayor Art Madrid Friday said he welcomed City Councilwoman Ruth Sterling’s decision to challenge him in November’s election.

“I welcome all opponents,’’ Madrid said. “This gives us a chance to discuss the issues and to lay out our record of accomplishments for the residents of La Mesa.’’

Madrid, the long-serving mayor, also had a direct answer when asked if he was willing to debate Sterling:

“Every week,’’ he said.

Sterling surprised many this week when she picked up papers, the first step to establishing candidacy in the mayor’s race. Sterling was not up for re-election to her council seat this year but had publicly lamented the lack of aggressive challengers for the seats, including the mayor’s, that will be up for re-election.

But since picking up papers, Sterling has been keeping a low profile, not responding to calls and e-mails from for comment. Some local politicians say her low-key approach suggests she may not be serious about a run and may not eventually file the papers.

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Comment by Craig S. Maxwell on August 2, 2010 at 2:54pm
Art Madrid says, “Let's debate!” What an excellent idea. Let's begin with some recent history.

In 2006, Art Madrid and city attorney Glen Sabin sent a letter to La Mesa resident Chris Tanner which (in the words of the San Diego Union-Tribune) accused “him of defaming council members during a Jan. 24 meeting, when Tanner hinted that the city might be cozy with developers. The letter asked for a public retraction and an apology, threatened legal action and promised that the council would discuss the matter in closed session.” The letter accused Tanner of making remarks that were “wholly inaccurate and defamatory – and thereby unacceptable,” In addition, Madrid charged that since Tanner had “made the he has to prove it.” With the notable exception of Ruth Sterling, the entire council--to their great shame and discredit--signed the letter.

But in the end, and to the surprise of only a few, Madrid's threat turned out to be completely hollow. First Amendment lawyers and specialists who examined the letter quickly demonstrated that, not only was his accusation bogus—Tanner had said nothing wrong, and was under no obligation to “prove” anything-- but that Madrid and Sabine had actually laid the city open to the threat of a counter-suit by Tanner, should he choose to file.

Luckily for the sake of the city, Tanner let it go. And after they'd been taken to the legal woodshed, complicitous councilmen, Ewin, Jantz, and Allen, and city attorney Sabin beat a hasty retreat, and quickly (and profusely) apologized to Tanner. But not Art Madrid. No! Putting his own trademark vanity and vindictiveness ahead of the law—ahead of our Constitutional right to free speech!—he resolutely declared that, if given the chance, “he would do it over again.”

Thus, it is no exaggeration to point out that: a) not only has every La Mesan since 2006 been living in the shadow of Madrid's unrepentant, unlawful threat; but that, b) this is the kind of “man”—one openly contemptuous of our rights when they contradict his pride-- who holds our city's highest elected office.

It wasn't long after the Tanner incident that Madrid again disgraced himself when police found him drunk near his car, (engine running) passed-out in a puddle of his own street pizza. Nor is Chris Tanner the only person the mayor has threatened. On one occasion, he told a local businessman that if our friendly relations continued, his business would suffer. It did. Almost immediately thereafter the individual in question lost the patronage of several formerly loyal customers.

Art says, “Let's debate!” He says he wants “a chance to discuss the issues and to lay out our record of accomplishments for the residents of La Mesa.’’

I am not running. But, but for the sake of the city, I hope that his opponent—whoever he/she may be--has the guts to ask him about some of the “accomplishments” I've listed above.

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