Policy and Politics: A Tale of Kick-Ball — Blog #4

It has certainly been a few interesting weeks in San Diego. The last vestiges of the San Diego Chargers have now bid our city goodbye, and some anticipate the arrival of a new Major League Soccer Team – or so they’d hope. SoccerCity, as it has come to be known, is a multibillion dollar development project that would replace the aging and costly Qualcomm Stadium, formerly the home of the San Diego Chargers, with a soccer stadium, office buildings, commercial space, and a water front park for recreation purposes. Now that all seems fun and a sound idea, but actually getting the project approved has proven complicated. Since the city owns the land, a public decision must be made. Mayor Faulconer has pushed for a special election this coming November in hopes of attaining public approval, securing SoccerCity’s development. However, conflicts of the special election have abounded, giving the project a cloudy future.

At the center of this fight is the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, and while there hasn’t been an official position taken on the proposal, a lot of the inner workings of the process are apparent to us. As one of my colleagues advised me, “land development is where the big battles are fought” – and as we can see with SoccerCity, this has proven true! The SoccerCity Battle has been one of the focal points of observation during my time interning for the Chamber. Therefore, I have indeed been able to fulfill my goal of learning a lot more about the public policy process. I’ve been able to witness first hand the negotiations behind policies, and what effect an advocacy group such as ours has on the creation and implementation of those policies.

Moreover, I have learned how policy positions are taken! The Chamber of Commerce is essentially an organization that exists through the memberships of businesses. Therefore, we serve the interests of those businesses, rather than the interests of figures in our organization. One of the most interesting aspects of my job as an intern is the opportunity to sit in on many public policy committee meetings – meetings that concern water and energy, infrastructure and health care, and defense, veterans, and military! Those meetings have helped me learn from the industry itself about policies they may like or not like – and why they may hold a certain position. It is also at these meetings that votes are taken on policy positions, by those very businesses and organizations on the committee. Therefore, the opportunities to connect and network are widespread – for instance, I was able to reconnect with a figure in the Mayor’s Office who I had not seen since I left that position last year!

As a result of the above developments, I do believe that I have been able to get a grasp of business policy and local politics in San Diego. I’ve also been able to become a more familiar face within the office itself, as I’ve been able to have some very valuable and interesting conversations with some of my colleagues, and build up those connections for my future. However, networking is also an area in which I see a lot of potential growth for myself – I want to use the committee meetings I had mentioned earlier to actually speak with business and industry leaders themselves and have conversations with them. It’s been harder to do that, since the only times I would see them are at our monthly meetings. With that being said, however, I have been gaining a lot valuable experience – experience that is shaping my worldly outlook and my potential career paths!

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