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Q&A: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer

Editor+in+Chief+Andrew+Dyer+interviewed+San+Diego+Mayor+Kevin+Faulconer+Sept.+22.
Editor in Chief Andrew Dyer interviewed San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer Sept. 22.

Editor in Chief Andrew Dyer interviewed San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer Sept. 22.

Editor in Chief Andrew Dyer interviewed San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer Sept. 22.

by Andrew Dyer, Editor in Chief

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San Diego State is launching a pitched political battle that touches on many of the issues that define life in Southern California — land use, higher education, influential developers and the power of ballot propositions to shape policy for decades.

In one corner, there is the university.

SDSU is looking to stake its claim on the SDCCU stadium property in the heart of Mission Valley. A new stadium, research facilities and student housing are all part of a site plan the university is working to get before voters in November 2018.

In the opposite corner sits FS Investors. The La Jolla firm already has its Soccer City initiative on that same November ballot and a deal with Major League Soccer to bring a team to San Diego.

Between these interests is San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. The mayor, an SDSU alumnus and former Associated Students president, threw his support behind Soccer City, leaving the university without a powerful ally in city hall.

Faulconer spoke with The Daily Aztec about his time at SDSU, Soccer City, and the future of the university in San Diego.

You were A.S. president in 1989-1990. What issues were big on campus then?

You’re always going to have controversies, that never changes. One of the biggest things we were working on when I was there was moving forward with the new arena — the Cox arena then and the student activity center gym. All (of) that passed and was a big part of several years’ worth of effort.

My roots go deep to the university, and the relationships run deep, just as it is for so many people in the entire city of San Diego.

You’ve said you’re an “Aztec for life.” You’re also a supporter of Soccer City. How have you navigated this?

My job as mayor is to look after the best interests of San Diego, first and foremost. And in doing that, you take into consideration all the important stakeholders — the university, the stakeholders in Mission Valley and environmental leaders. With a big issue like this you’re always going to have competing interests. That’s part of what I do, and it’s not easy.

For big projects like this, how you ultimately achieve success is to bring people together to collaborate, to talk. That is something I’m still pursuing as we look ahead to November 2018 — What are the opportunities?

First and foremost, a place for Aztec football. A place for the university to expand some of its operations — to finally get a world class river park that we’ve been waiting for. To add housing opportunities — we’re in the midst of a housing crisis so anything we can do to add to that supply is incredibly important.

With those key items together, that’s the opportunity…to have a project that accomplishes all of those goals — a place for Aztec football and a place for Major League Soccer. People are excited about the opportunity for Major League Soccer to come to San Diego and to me, it’s never been an either-or — it’s been “how do you bring people together?”

SDSU is out of negotiations with FS Investors. If Soccer City wins, where does that leave the university?

I’ve always said very clearly there is a seat at the table for San Diego State. And I’m going to insist on that, not only in the beginning but at the end of the process. It’s that important, and it’s in the best interest of the city. There still is (an) opportunity for all stakeholders to come together. There’s time.

But, just taking into account the stadium — the other parts of the project, leave those aside for now — the stadium should absolutely be built to accommodate soccer and Aztec football in a way that makes sense.

Where do you see SDSU in the fabric of the region long-term?

We’re fortunate in San Diego to have so many higher education institutions — not only San Diego State, (but) UCSD and USD. In my opinion, from an education standpoint…(SDSU is) a hallmark for us. I think when you look at politics, when you look at education, when you look at so many other fields — finance, business — you have Aztecs everywhere. We’re lucky as a region to have the universities that we do. I’m a little biased because I’m an alum, but I’m proud that San Diego State continues to fill that flagship role with educating so many people.

I think (there is) a challenge and opportunity because we want the university to grow, we want it to expand. We want to offer more opportunities for our kids…and SDSU is the flagship for the CSU system — one I’m very proud of — and I want us to grow that. And so as we look at nearby opportunities, we look at the Mission Valley site, I think that makes perfect sense. San Diego state has a rich history in San Diego for all the right reasons. I want to see that not only just continue, but I want to see it grow and expand.

Do you have a message for current SDSU students?

Take advantage of all that the university has to offer. The classroom, world class professors, but also the student activities side. Obviously, I was involved with Associated Students. My message is to get out and experience as much as you can. I loved my time there, I got involved in a lot of different things, and there are opportunities at SDSU that you will not find (anywhere else). But, study hard, too.

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