It's easy to be over-dramatic about the pending change of leadership at San Diego City Hall. To Roger Hedgecock's credit, the next mayor will not come into a city government left in shambles because of inattention. Hedgecock, blessed with remarkable energy and powers of concentration, seemingly managed to keep things running smoothly through both of his trials and throughout a year of distraction.
But that's not to say there will not be some difficult times ahead for all those in city government. City Manager Sylvester Murray, on the job only a month, will have to contend with a void at the head of the council table--and probably with two or more council members running for mayor. It will be up to him to work at keeping morale high among city employees and to steer a steady course in the face of the numerous initiatives likely to be launched by the mayoral contenders on the council.
By graciously setting Friday as his resignation date, Hedgecock has speeded up the replacement process by three weeks. The City Council should move quickly to set an election for the earliest reasonable time.
As the candidates announce their intentions and the campaigns begin to unfold, the question of leadership is likely to emerge as a key. Pete Wilson, who was first elected to the office in 1971, transformed the mayor's role from figurehead to true political leader. Hedgecock's election seemed to assure that San Diego would continue to have a strong hand at the helm. Looking at the list of those frequently mentioned as possible candidates for mayor, it is difficult to see the leadership qualities that both Wilson and Hedgecock possessed. But opportunity often brings out the best in those who would claim leadership, and we hope that is the case with the next mayor.