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filner-tijuana-officeSan Diego mayor-elect Bob Filner, at a press conference following his electoral victory. He said Friday that he intends to open a binational affairs office in Tijuana. — Peggy Peattie

San Diego's mayor-elect plans to open a border affairs office in Tijuana that's aimed at building closer political, economic and cultural ties between the two cities.

Bob Filner made the announcement Friday during a downtown luncheon sponsored by Sempra International and hosted by the Mexico Business Center of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"Tijuana has an office in San Diego. Why not have a San Diego office in Tijuana?" Filner said as he an addressed an audience that included Baja California business and political leaders. "At every level we can think of, we're going to increase the relationships and make real the fact that we talk about dos ciudades y una region (two cities and one region)."

Filner is a longtime U.S. congressman whose district covers California's border with Mexico. Since January 2011, he has been co-chair of the Congressional Border Caucus.

Filner said he hopes to enlist border mayors and governors in collectively lobbying for more federal resources for projects such as completing the expansion of the congested San Ysidro border crossing.

"Nobody should have to wait two to three hours to cross the border," he said. "We know we can do it in 10 or 15 minutes if the staff is there, if better technology is there. It's a question of will, and we want to change that will right away."

As Congressman, Filner said he found that "right now, there's no will in Washington. They do not understand the issue...The executive department did not listen to us much."

Tijuana's mayor, Carlos Bustamante, has been credited with forging a solid relationship with San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders. Filner said he has met with Bustamante and is laying plans for closer collaboration between the two administrations.

A key step, Filner said, will be the opening the binational affairs office in Tijuana.

"Every day, there's these issues that come out," he said. "I just want us to have a presence where these issues can be talked out immediately, personally, directly and show that we take this relationship seriously."

Source: UT-San Diego
Author: Sandra Dibble
(619) 293-1716 Twitter @sandraddible

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