For Mayor of San Diego: Kevin Faulconer is the clear choice

U-T San Diego Endorsement

By all accounts, both candidates in the Feb. 11 special election for mayor of San Diego are men of good character. Both are experienced, one more so than the other, and intelligent. Both have long-held core values and a track record of consistency to back them up. And, when not in attack mode in a campaign debate, both seem to be personable, nice guys. Each can lay claim to being the behavioral and psychological opposite of Bob Filner, the felonious former mayor who was forced to resign last August.

But politically and philosophically, Kevin Faulconer and David Alvarez are very different men with very different visions of San Diego’s future and how to get there. Those differences give voters a very clear choice. The choice of

U-T San Diego

ownership and its editorial board is Kevin Faulconer.

Faulconer is the most senior member of the city council. He won his seat in 2006 in the midst of the financial crisis stemming from the underfunding of the city employee pension fund, and not long before that crisis was compounded by the Great Recession. He had a close-up view of City Hall’s fiscal problems and how they devastated many municipal services.

Most important, as chair of the council’s Audit Committee, vice chair of the Rules and Economic Development Committee and a member of the Budget and Finance Committee, Faulconer has gained an understanding of the financial and operational workings of City Hall that simply cannot be matched by any other member of the council — knowledge that he used to play a lead role in bringing the city back from the brink of even greater fiscal collapse.

Faulconer supported Proposition C in 2006, the initiative authorizing the council to allow competition between city employees and the private sector for the provision of municipal services. Voters overwhelmingly agreed, approving the measure with more than 60 percent of the vote. It has saved taxpayers millions so far and with continued implementation could save many millions more. Alvarez, pushed by the public employee labor unions, opposes it.

Faulconer helped lead opposition to the city sales tax increase proposed in 2010 in Proposition D, arguing that City Hall needed to get its financial house in order with specific reforms before asking taxpayers for more money.

Voters overwhelmingly agreed with him, rejecting the tax increase with 62 percent of the vote. Alvarez, pushed by the public employee labor unions, supported it.

Faulconer was a co-author of the comprehensive pension reform initiative, Proposition B, on the ballot in 2012. Again voters agreed, this time approving it with 66 percent of the vote. That measure alone is projected to save San Diego taxpayers nearly $1 billion. Alvarez, pushed by the public employee labor unions, opposed it.

Faulconer was a leading opponent of the monster increases — as much as 900 percent for some businesses — in the so-called linkage fee approved last fall by the council on all nonresidential development in the city. The increases are already causing suburban politicians to try to lure San Diego businesses away, and are causing companies large and small to rethink their expansion plans within the city. Faulconer supports the referendum drive seeking to put the fee increases on the ballot for voters to decide. Alvarez made the motion at council to approve the increases and opposes the referendum.

Faulconer opposed the Barrio Logan community plan update that threatens San Diego’s shipbuilding and repair industry. Alvarez, pushed by labor, made the motion at council to approve the plan and opposes the referendum that has already qualified for the ballot to repeal it.

Faulconer opposes the proposal by Interim Mayor Todd Gloria in his State of the City speech last week to increase the minimum wage in San Diego. Alvarez, pushed by organized labor, supports it.

Faulconer is being painted by labor forces in this campaign as a rigidly conservative tool of moneyed corporate special interests, a right-wing throwback to a different era. But, frankly, he is not as conservative as many conservatives would like him to be. He now supports gay marriage and is pro-choice on abortion rights. And the breadth of campaign endorsements he has won clearly demonstrates his independent, moderate appeal. Among them: San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore, the San Diego Police Officers Association, a coalition of bicycle enthusiasts, the high-tech life-science organization called Biocom, the Latino American Political Association, a coalition of pastors representing largely African-American churches, and Father Joe Carroll, the revered champion of San Diego’s homeless.

Faulconer also has a solid record of bipartisanship on the council. He worked closely with then-Councilwoman Donna Frye in 2008 in support of a proposition that ensures that tax money generated in Mission Bay Park stays in Mission Bay Park. Similarly, he continually worked closely with Gloria to ease homelessness downtown and elsewhere in the city.

Does Faulconer have the overwhelming support of the business community? Yes, and a lot of others as well. An estimated 80 percent of the money being spent on behalf of Alvarez in this campaign comes from organized labor. These are the same people who put Filner in the mayor’s office in 2012. They have their own interests at heart, not those of taxpayers.

David Alvarez is a good man. But he is wrong on virtually every major issue facing San Diego.


U-T San Diego

offers its strong endorsement for Kevin Faulconer as the mayor who can best move this city forward.