The San Diego Taxpayers' Association was founded on September 18, 1945, just four days after the abrupt end of WWII. As the world entered the atomic era, San Diego's wartime economy evaporated. Factory production of warplanes halted and thousands were out of work. Meanwhile, political and civic leaders grappled with what San Diego should become in this brave new world.
The Association was founded by the "Broadway Barons” aircraft pioneer Claude T. Ryan; attorneys Walter Ames and J.D. Forward; contractors Roscoe “Pappy” Hazard and Walter Trepte; department store owner Guilford Whitney and others who felt that San Diego needed an independent civic organization separate and distinct from the City-subsidized Chamber of Commerce to monitor government spending and efficiency as San Diego planned its future in the post-war world.
In early 1946 the San Diego Taxpayers Association - SDTA (later SDCTA, when “County” was added to its name in the 1980’s) - hired its first Executive Director, Jack Borchers. Jack, a tax attorney by training, was fresh from serving on Admiral Nimitz’s staff in Hawaii. Jack initiated the detailed analysis and independent approach to issues that is still the signature of today’s Taxpayers Association.
The “Borchers’ era” resulted in SDCTA becoming a key player in San Diego’s civic establishment. Borchers worked closely with dairyman-Mayor Harley Knox in developing a constructive working relationship with local government. Jack served until 1955, and then went on to run the San Diego Chamber of Commerce for 20 years.
The Association’s second Executive Director, John Leppert (who retired as Assistant City Manager for the City of San Diego in 1997), ran SDCTA from 1955 to 1970. Leppert’s tenure cemented the Association’s role as a permanent civic fixture, and a force to be reckoned with.
The work of SDCTA’s pioneers, its consistently “lean and mean” staff and its dedicated and hardworking Board of Directors is why public opinion polls consistently rank SDCTA as the most “influential” and “trusted” public policy institution in San Diego.