Both San Diego mayoral candidates vow to protect, improve neighborhoods
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
San Diego mayoral candidates David Alvarez and Kevin Faulconer spoke at a forum in Rancho Bernardo on Dec. 3, putting similar priorities on quality of life issues — improving infrastructure, police and fire protection, libraries and parks.
“On Day One, I will make sure the city budget reflects the values of all communities, focusing on the basics,” Alvarez told the standing-room-only crowd at the Ed Brown Senior Center. “It’s simple: provide services to keep you safe, have a better quality of life, police and fire protection, open space and parks. I will start by focusing on a budget that reflects those, so valuable dollars are used in the community. I will present a balanced budget that reflects the values of all of us, that is open and transparent.”
On his turn, Faulconer said, “I will make sure to restart programs that have been stopped. With competition for city services, we just scratched the surface when Bob Filner stopped it. It does not matter who wins (contracts) because we win as San Diegans.”
Faulconer also pledged to shrink the city’s shortfall of 130 police officers by addressing recruitment and retention issues to improve neighborhood safety since “you deserve to feel safe.”
Voters will decide which city councilman will succeed the ousted Filner in a run-off election, Feb. 11, 2014.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to continue the work I started on the city council seven years ago,” said Faulconer, a Republican who represents District 2 and who won all precincts along the Inland Corridor and much of the city north of Interstate 8. “I have a proven ability to work well (with others), with proven results.”
Alvarez, a Democrat and first-term councilman, who represents District 8 and primarily won the precincts south of Interstate 8, said, “I am living the dream that (my immigrant parents) had.” He said he represents change from those who have led the city thus far. “You can switch out the names, but they are the same characters,” Alvarez told the crowd.
The event had a forum (not debate) format with audience-generated questions on topics such as the environment, the Chargers stadium, candidates’ abilities to stand up for what they believe in even if not popular, long-range vision for the city, financing for projects without redevelopment funds, wildfire prevention, water supply security and values.
Alvarez said his environmental sustainability blueprint includes San Diegans purchasing energy from renewable sources, not San Diego Gas & Electric. He said he would also promote creation of a green economy sector.
Faulconer said he is a fan of alternative energy, particularly solar, which has yet to be fully utilized. He said he would ease the bureaucratic red tape that hinders progress in this area.
Both men said they support the Chargers, but do not support taxpayer dollars funding a new stadium.
“Any financing plan has to make sense and protect us as taxpayers,” Faulconer said. He added that funding should not come from the general fund, which needs to be spent on neighborhoods. “The Chargers have to step up, as does the County (and other entities).”
Alvarez said, “I’ve been very clear from the beginning, I do not support subsidizing a franchise. I do not support using taxpayer dollars for a stadium.” He said the ideal site is the current one, due to its access to public transportation and freeways.
Both candidates said issues like public safety and crumbling roads affect all communities, whether in the northern or southern portions of the city. In terms of long-range vision, Alvarez said with the city near built-out, San Diegans need to think differently about how the city will grow, with housing near employment and public transportation, so San Diego does not get left behind other cities. Alvarez said local planning groups’ decisions are important to this process.
Faulconer said protecting each community’s character is important, emphasizing a need to update community plans that have not been revised in years. He also said residents’ voices need to be heard at City Hall and bureaucracy needs to be responsive to them.
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