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Hahn's Year-End Review

July 05, 2002

Excerpts from a Times interview with Mayor James K. Hahn about his reflections on his first year in office:

On regrets about his first year:

"The frustration, if I had any, is [that] I would have liked to have had the 10% budget growth that [former Mayor] Dick Riordan was experiencing the last few years, and then I could have had a lot of extra money to spend on parks and playgrounds and more street paving."

On the toll of the office:

"You're a human being, and the hours get to you after a while. A lot of breakfast meetings and events that go into the evening make the day pretty long."

On the public's view of him:

"I don't think they know I'm the mayor yet.... It seems to me there's not a lot of attention focused on me as an individual. That's probably OK. But I think people are still getting to know that there's a new mayor in town."

On whether he enjoyed this year:

"Yeah. It's been tough, though. It's been tiring.... The whole fight by [former Police Chief] Bernard Parks to keep his job and the reaction of different people was very discouraging to me, because it was so unnecessary, all of that. But at the end of the day, I found out that the ordinary folks on the street who I'd bump into say, 'You know, don't listen to the so-called leaders. We still love you. You're our mayor, and we're behind you.' You just have to recognize that people who claim to be spokespeople for vast constituencies are usually more spokespeople for themselves."

On the press' focus on politics:

"It may surprise you that I don't think about every single issue that comes across the table every day in terms of its political issues. But it seems to me that you do. And that's not what government is. Sure, politics is part of it. But it's not the only part of it. Secession is about the future of the city; it's not about Jim Hahn's political future. And trying to get folks to focus on that has been frustrating."

On being mayor:

"It's very humbling, and I'm very appreciative of this opportunity to be the mayor. It's not something that my whole personal ambition is tied up in, being elected and running things....

"It always surprises people, that I'm just being a normal person--shopping at the grocery store, and going to Home Depot in a dirty T-shirt on a Saturday morning. They don't expect it. And I don't want to lose that. And I think that's the frustrating thing. I want to spend as much time as I can with my kids and be a good parent. And I think some people that I've run into who are elected officials just--they're too far gone into the whole political ambition part of it. They're not regular anymore; they're not normal."

On being criticized for not having a higher public profile:

"[San Francisco Mayor] Willie Brown is a good friend of mine, and he's certainly a larger-than-life figure in San Francisco. But there are a lot of people in San Francisco not that thrilled with him.... I don't know that being Willie Brown as a larger-than-life figure has made that much of a difference one way or another in the way that city has been governed."

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