Sanders will replace Ruben Barrales on Dec. 4. His term as mayor of the city of San Diego ends one day earlier, when he will be succeeded by Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego.
Barrales announced in September that he would step down after six years at the chamber’s helm. He said he wanted to pursue other opportunities in which he could promote the area’s economy.
Sanders was selected by a five-member committee that included last year’s chamber chairman, Vincent Mudd of San Diego Office Interiors; Mike Niggli of San Diego Gas & Electric, who will be the chairman next year; and Mary Ann Barnes of Kaiser Permanente, who will be vice chairwoman next year.
The hiring came together rapidly. Sanders said Mudd called him about a week ago, and the more they talked, the more he realized it would be a good fit for both sides.
“Given my work over the years to create jobs and grow our economy, heading up the chamber is a very natural extension of my work here in San Diego,” Sanders said. “And there is plenty of work to do.”
He listed looming automatic federal budget cuts to defense and cross- border commerce as immediate issues. He also said he wanted the chamber more involved in public policy, at all levels of government.
“While our elected officials may mean well, the policies they set often do great harm by stunting economic growth,” Sanders said. “We must remove the obstacles that are preventing our smaller businesses from growing and hiring.”
Sanders, who lives in Kensington, has spent the past eight years at the City Hall on C Street. The chamber is located on West Broadway.
He previously was San Diego’s police chief and headed the United Way of San Diego County.