50 People to Watch in 2003
By Thomas K. Arnold, Tom Blair,
(page 10 of 10)Barbara Warden
During her eight years on the San Diego City Council during the turbulent ’90s, she was arguably the best-liked of the eight councilmembers (which is not quite damning with faint praise). And as the new president of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, Warden’s popularity and powers of persuasion may be the key to handling a wide range of goals and challenges.
Among the big items on the 2003 agenda for the business/residential-interest group: the Padres’ late-inning revamping of the downtown ballpark project; progress on the long-awaited main library; competition for the Seaport Village expansion; and the North Embarcadero Plan.
It’s a full plate, but she’s undaunted. As far as pushing the partnership’s political agenda goes, Warden knows her way around City Hall.
As marketing director for one of the city’s largest law firms, Watkins finds herself sitting on a lot of charity boards of directors and chairing her share of fund-raisers. Two groups benefiting in 2003 from her high energy and people skills are San Diego–based Project Concern International and the foundation for the East County Performing Arts Center.
The former provides immunizations, clean water and hot food to needy kids in Tijuana; the latter is kicking off a major expansion of its arts and education program that includes opportunities for schoolkids to learn directly from recognized musicians and other performers. Watkins, who is with Luce, Forward, also cochairs this year’s Race for the Cure, benefiting breast-cancer research.
Attorney Watson, chairman of the mayor’s 15-member Chargers Task Force, began his professional life as a news reporter. This might explain his approach to the unpredictable civic position he now occupies, what with team developments and city relationships changing on a near-daily basis and the task force recommendations not expected till February. “I’m not pro-Chargers or anti-Chargers,” he says. “I just want to be informed.”
The wonderful world of newspapering may also have influenced his sense of humor. “I sometimes wonder if this is my payback for a sin I committed in a previous life,” Watson muses. “I think I may need more condolences than congratulations.”
As the football drama continues to play out, look for him “to keep a sense of humor and just get the job done.”
As the new CEO of the North County Economic Development Council (he starts January 1), Yavanian has plenty of challenges ahead. The council, formed in 1998 to provide North County businesses with a unified voice on key regional issues, needs to define its niche and working relations with county groups like the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and local economic development programs.
With limited resources—the staff numbers three—Yavanian says one key objective is to “establish a sound strategic plan and viable vision for the North County region,” dealing with such issues as growth and traffic. “Certainly, we will not work in a vacuum,” says Yavanian, a veteran of the Carlsbad and Escondido chambers of commerce.
He steps in as a freshman on the San Diego City Council, after a bruising election campaign. Zucchet takes over in District 2. He defeated Kevin Faulconer, who was endorsed by termed-out Councilman Byron Wear. Zucchet’s viewed as a pro-labor politician—his former job was as legislative and community affairs director for the San Diego City Fire Fighters union.
He’s also billed as an environmentalist, and was backed by the Sierra Club. Ready to weigh in on negotiations with the Chargers?