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Jim Madaffer


Edgy Interview: Jim Madaffer

Jim Madaffer has long been an infrastructure geek. He’s been a member of the powerful California Transportation Commission, appointed by former Governor Jerry Brown. He’s currently a member of the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors and its immediate past chair, a former San Diego City Councilmember (from 2000-2008), a former Planning Group Chair, past Chair of the city’s Community Planners Committee, a former city council Chief of Staff and a serial entrepreneur who founded a manufacturing business in the early 1980s. To say Jim’s a busy guy who has his hands and mind wrapped around big important initiatives is an understatement. He’s an early-adopting forward-thinking force of nature, with a raft of ideas and the energy to pursue them. Jim also has a playful side, as you’ll appreciate in this installment of The Edgy Interview.


Most people say they got a lucky break at some point. Tell us about yours.
Having the greatest parents ever.


First concert you attended and how did it make you feel?

Beatles concert at Balboa stadium. My parents took me; I was 5 years old.


Do you think America’s best days are behind her or ahead of her and why?

Ahead.  We are at a turning point in American politics today – as though we have two Americas.  We must return to greater civility and remember the best of politics is for all sides to compromise.  There is rarely any one right or perfect answer to the problems we face.


Which American from history do you identify with most and why?

Thomas Edison or Alexander Graham Bell.  As a ham radio operator (K6JVM), I’m always tinkering with technology or a gadget of some sort.


If you could repeal one law, which would it be and why?

Any law that is out of date.


Tell us about your proudest legislative achievement on the City Council.

Building a library system that today includes the main library and a growing network of new and modernized neighborhood branch libraries.


Tell us about your proudest achievement as a public affairs professional.

Helping cities become smart and connected communities generally. Perhaps singularly was winning the Polo Fields lease for our client Surf Cup Sports.


Tell us about your artistic talent(s).

Stick figures.


Who are your favorite artists — any medium?


Who should play you in your biopic?

Robert Downey Jr.


What was your favorite musical genre as a teenager and what do you listen to now?

Rock as a teenager. Today I listen to everything, with a tilt toward country.


Which reality TV show would you most like to compete on and why?

Chopped – love to cook, love to chop.


If you were a competitive eater, which food would be your specialty?



If you could travel back to a place you’ve been, where would you go and why is that a special place?

Italy – the people, the food, my Italian heritage.


Favorite cuisine and where do you get it? 

Italian.  Italy.


How did you first get involved in local politics?

Tierrasanta Community Council, Community Planners Committee, and the rest, as they say, is history.


What’s the best professional advice you’ve received and who gave it to you?

Upon getting elected, my mentor and predecessor Judy McCarty told me that while I now represent a large constituency of voters, my true constituency is four other votes on the City Council.


What advice do you have for young people starting out?

Find a mentor.


You’ve mentored some people.  Anyone you are particularly proud of?

Aimee Faucett, Jaymie Bradford, Elyse Lowe.


What makes bulldogs special?

The most loving, snoring squish-faces you’ll ever meet.


Tell us about your upcoming development project.

We purchased a 25-acre, 1,400 apple tree you-pick farm and orchard in Julian – hoping to make it a place for locals to enjoy good food, beverages, and a dark sky night.


Take us through Jim Madaffer’s “perfect day” in San Diego.

Breakfast with my bride, bike ride, Costco, and a perfect sunset


What would you change about yourself?

Be less of a procrastinator.


Jim Madaffer

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