Carl DeMaio: A Reformer with Results

“DeMaio’s passion for reforming government has taken him from a difficult upbringing to a career as a successful entrepreneur with a national reputation.” - San Diego Union Tribune

Carl DeMaio knows how to reform government - and he has built an entire business and a political career on speaking truth to power, holding government accountable, and offering creative solutions to public challenges. At the age of 23, Carl DeMaio started his first company — the Performance Institute — to provide training and consulting solutions to help financially-troubled government entities cut costs while improving performance. DeMaio turned his business success into a life-long crusade to improve the performance, transparency, efficiency and accountability of government at all levels. DeMaio won a seat on the San Diego City Council in 2008 — and helped turn that city around from the brink of bankruptcy through his Roadmap to Recovery reform agenda. 

Host on NewsRadio 600 KOGO - and Chairman of Reform California

DeMaio is now tackling state-wide fiscal reform policy in his new role as Chairman of Reform California - serving as one the the state's leading voices against tax hikes. DeMaio is also continuing to speak out on local issues, as co-host of his daily news and talk show in KOGO-AM 600.

Overcoming Adversity in Childhood

Carl DeMaio is no stranger to adversity. Carl's mother passed away two weeks after his father abandoned the family. At age 14, Carl was taken in by Jesuits and given the opportunity to earn his way to Georgetown University. "I learned from a young age that no matter how bad things get, there is always a way to overcome any challenge," said Carl. "I'm grateful to the Jesuits for instilling in me both a disciplined work ethic and a strong sense of public service."

A Businessman with Real World Experience

After college, Carl founded two successful businesses before the age of thirty. Carl built the Performance Institute into one of the largest government reform think tanks in the nation and the leading authority on performance-based management in government, law enforcement, non-profits and schools. In 2003, Carl founded the American Strategic Management Institute (ASMI), which provides training and education in corporate financial and performance management. In late 2007, Carl sold both of his companies to Thompson Publishing Group.

San Diego's Taxpayers' Watchdog - Author of the Pension Reform Initiative

As a resident of San Diego, Carl turned his expertise toward his own local government. In 2003, Carl underwrote and directed a study of the city's budget and reporting his findings of widespread waste and inefficiency to the City Council. "It became obvious to us that there was a complete lack of transparency and accountability in city government. City leaders were more concerned with pleasing city labor unions and special interests with sweetheart deals, rather than providing taxpayers with the quality of service they were paying for." Carl quickly became a prominent spokesman on issues related to reforming city government – even authoring a major financial reform report in 2004 known as the San Diego Citizens' Budget Plan. Not content to wait for city leaders to implement reforms, Carl repeatedly took his case to the voters – sponsoring city-wide voter education drives during each election, helping defeat tax and fee increases, and sponsoring a number of reform ballot measures. In 2006, Carl helped craft and sponsor two major ballot measures: Proposition B that gives voters final say on any future pension benefit increases, and Prop C that requires competitive bidding and outsourcing of some city functions to cut costs and create jobs. In 2008, Carl helped build a coalition to pass the Strong Mayor measure to improve accountability and transparency in government. In 2010, Carl led the fight to defeat Proposition D, a $500 million tax increase. His message was clear: force the politicians and unions to start reforming city government by refusing to give them more money. In 2012, Carl authored and led the coalition to pass the landmark pension reform initiative that ends pension spiking abuses, caps pensionable payouts, and closes the city's troubled pension system and gives new hires 401(k) style retirement accounts instead. "I have learned that if the system won't reform itself, you have to go directly to the voters and impose reform on city leaders from the outside," said Carl.

Leading Fiscal Reform on the City Council

On June 3, 2008 Carl DeMaio was elected to the San Diego City Council to represent District 5. Carl made history as a non-incumbent taking a Council seat by the widest margin in a primary-winning 66% of the vote. Refusing to shed his watchdog roots, Carl worked tirelessly to change the way city government does business. The reforms Carl laid out in the Roadmap to Recovery received widespread praise from non-partisan organizations such as the San Diego Taxpayers Association and the Citizen's Fiscal Sustainability Task Force.  Carl has fought wasteful spending by using his Council position to direct performance audits of city departments and thoroughly reviewing department budget requests. Carl has offered a laundry list of cost-saving proposals to the Mayor and City Council. By educating and engaging the public on these common sense proposals, Carl was successful in getting a significant number of reforms enacted on bipartisan votes of the City Council – saving over $150 million during his term in office. Carl also won bipartisan votes on his other important reform proposals - ranging from a measure to cut red tape on small business districts to his 'Sunshine Law' to expand public access to a wide range of city government documents making San Diego one of the more transparent local governments in the nation.

A Unique Leader Who Is Getting Results

In May 2012, the UT San Diego noted "DeMaio has a record of getting things done — the right things." At a time when the public is frustrated with the lack of results by elected officials at all levels, Carl DeMaio stands out as a unique leader. Carl leads by example — slashing his own compensation by 22% on day one of his city council term and rejecting enrollment in the overly-generous elected officials' pension program. Carl cut his own city council budget by 15% on day one — and returned over $600,000 to the city treasury during his term. Carl believes that elected officials should be judged based on their results, not rhetoric. To help change the culture of government, elected officials must demonstrate reform by applying it to themselves first. "If we want to change government, we have to change the kind of people we are electing to office. I want to be part of that change, and so far, our approach seems to be working to get the kind of results citizens deserve," concludes DeMaio.


PO Box 27227 San Diego, CA 92198


Email us at [email protected]