Special Election Preview

by Staff

Election day is Nov. 19. This means San Diego is less than a month away from electing a new mayor. Former assemblyman Nathan Fletcher currently leads preliminary polls, followed by San Diego councilmembers Kevin Faulconer and David Alvarez. Senior staff columnist Madison Hopkins and staff columnists Sicily Famolaro and Morgan Rubin are here to offer their first impressions of the leading candidates in the mayoral race. 

Nathan Fletcher

Sicily Famolaro, Staff Columnist

[dropcap]N[/dropcap]athan Fletcher’s quite an enigma. Such a concise description merely scratches the surface. His professional career began after his graduation from California Baptist University. He then served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2004-07, prior to his election and service in the California State Legislature, which began in 2008. During his time in the assembly he was a Republican. Fletcher was even elected as the Assembly Republican Whip in 2010. After leaving Sacramento, he became a senior director at Qualcomm Inc. He also holds an adjunct political science professorship at University of California, San Diego.

His policy platform stresses a cumulative variety of issues San Diego faces. Published on his campaign website, his major emphases are: neighborhood infrastructure investment, public safety, inequality of recreational park distribution, K-12 educational programs, public transportation, the state of water and beaches, promoting small businesses and a “21st Century Jobs Plan.” He is a philanthropist, in conjunction with many state and city councils, and sympathetic to the cause of war veterans because of his own military service.  He is ambitious in progressivism, and seems to be passionate about drafting legislation to promote holistic internal improvement.

Legislation proposal is his most notable accomplishment as a politician. During his term as an assemblyman, he wrote more than 30 legislative articles pertaining to “veterans, job creation, water infrastructure, pension reform, modernization of state government, health care, and public safety,” according to his website. His most well-known legislative accomplishment is the passage of Chelsea’s Law—a penalty intensification on sex offenders. With that determination and zeal, he has been distinguished as a highly efficacious policy maker.

However, Fletcher seems fickle when it comes to adhering to a political classification. He has changed his party twice in the past year and a half, which is atypical behavior for a politician.  After identifying as a Republican his entire career, he changed to Independent during the 2012 mayoral race, and became a Democrat this past May.

Such an inconsistent record is alarming. Though it may be an attempt to distance himself from the polarity of the political system, it still denotes a leader who may not be sure about his own policies. A party deflection—not once, but twice—doesn’t mean he’ll stick to his proverbial guns.

I’m not going to judge his character and leadership ability on this premise. He seems like a good, diligent and dedicated man. Political identification has nothing to do with leadership potential. Inconsistency might not seem appropriate in the political world, but it’s not a crime. I do believe that humans are capable of change, so I won’t discount Fletcher as a flip-flopper because he switched parties when the political stakes were high. People alter their modes of thought daily about the simplest and most cumbersome subjects—he is only experiencing a natural human tendency.

That being said, the prospects that Fletcher might actually reshape and transform this city look bright. He certainly seems to be an impetus for change with his breadth of drafted legislation and party vacillation. For those who believe in what he preaches, it seems that he will push those policies and reforms from ideas to fruition. Fletcher is good at what he’s supposed to be: a legislator.

Kevin Faulconer

Morgan Rubin, Staff Columnist

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]an Diego’s political climate has been hectic during the past few months. We found out our mayor was as creepy as he looked, and as a result, we get the pleasure of having a special election to determine who the next leader of this city will be.  It’s looking like one of the top three candidates—Nathan Fletcher, Kevin Faulconer and David Alvarez—will win the coveted position.  Many people aren’t following the special election, but being the politically savvy girl that I am, I keep up with local politics. After much consideration, I’ve decided the worst option for San Diego is Faulconer.

I’ll be the first to admit Faulconer isn’t a crazy Tea Party conservative. Compared to many members of his party, he’s quite moderate. That being said, his moderation isn’t a good enough reason for this city to elect him.

I can’t get over the fact that Faulconer’s position as a councilmember allowed him to play a role in negotiating Filner’s resignation.  How is that not a conflict of interest? In my mind, Faulconer said, “Thank you, Filner, for damaging the city’s reputation. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. By the way, I’m going after your job.” It’s unfortunate that the stereotype of the madly ambitious politician is alive and well in San Diego.

Faulconer’s stances on important issues are nonexistent, irrelevant or way off base for what San Diego needs. For example, he opposes current legislation to raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour by next year. I have a hard time believing someone could oppose such a bill, knowing there are people who are working full-time making the current minimum wage and living below the poverty line. At the same time, I recognize that since he’s never had to worry about how he was going to feed his own family, connecting with underprivileged San Diegans might be difficult.

Most voters aren’t rich businessmen or downtown special interests. Voters are working single moms who need affordable day care programs for their kids. They’re college students who need to know they can get a good paying job so they can pay off debts. Faulconer has no idea how to connect with people who don’t live in his world, and since the mayor is representative of the entire city, he simply doesn’t work as a candidate. As a black, 21-year-old woman in college, I don’t see how he could possibly know what I need as a resident of this city.

He’s the type of politician who doesn’t encourage progressive change, and the change he does promote is not what San Diego needs. Minorities, members of the LGBT community, low-income workers, veterans and students are all groups that won’t benefit from a Faulconer victory. I’m sure he’s a smart guy, and I can respect him as a member of the Aztec family, but he’s still part of the Republican political machine.

I’m just not convinced Faulconer is a good fit for San Diego at this point in time.  If our city keeps moving at a progressive pace, he won’t be a good fit for it. I equate him to the first model of the iPhone. It may have been good at one time, but with newer models on the market now, going back to the iPhone 3 would be a step in the wrong direction. There’s just nothing separating Faulconer from the typical middle-aged White Republican politicians who were so common among pre-Filner San Diego mayors.

On election day, Faulconer won’t get my vote. His priorities for the city aren’t on point and I don’t agree with him on most issues. Most importantly, he doesn’t inspire me. I look at him, and I don’t feel like he’s an essential part in moving San Diego out of the shadow of Filner’s scandal.

David Alvarez

Madison Hopkins, Senior Staff Columnist

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]an Diegans are ready for a mayor they can trust. They are looking for someone who will put the needs of San Diego before their own intentions while bringing transparency to City Hall. District 8 City Councilman David Alvarez believes he could be that candidate.

Alvarez grew up in the underprivileged neighborhood of Barrio Logan. He is a product of the local school system, and a San Diego State alumni. His parents worked minimum-wage jobs, his brothers had run-ins with gang activity, and he suffers from asthma—a byproduct of fumes from a chrome-plating shop adjacent to his childhood home. Clearly, he has firsthand knowledge of San Diego’s issues.

During his 2010 city council campaign, Alvarez ran on the platform that he knew San Diego’s needs and he would work to bring funding and services back to neighborhoods.

Once elected to the council, he attempted to make good on these promises. Alvarez has invested in law enforcement, improved emergency response times, supported affordable housing initiatives and worked to enact a community plan for Barrio Logan. The councilman pushed hard for the plan, which was approved by the council on Tuesday, but it is currently being threatened by a potential referendum backed by the local maritime industry. The plan addresses zoning issues that would create a buffer zone between residential areas and carcinogenic fume-creating industrial businesses. The plan is meant to prevent residents from falling victim to the same environmental oppression Alvarez grew up with.

Despite opposition from fellow councilman and mayoral opponent Kevin Faulconer, who stands with the interests of the maritime industry, Alvarez has worked to find a compromise to promote the health of his constituency, including making concessions to the shipbuilding industry to negotiate an agreement. He lost support from some of his own community for compromising, but at least he’s attempting to make progress.

Alvarez also promises to bring jobs back to San Diego. He has already done this, but not by bringing in the types of jobs his constituents may want. As a councilman, he supported the opening of two Wal-Mart stores in his district. Wal-Mart has been criticized for being anti-union, sexist, ageist, racist, and for providing low-paying jobs while crushing local businesses. Alvarez, who has received support from labor unions, claims he never voted in favor of Wal-Mart developments.

The City Council approved an ordinance requiring special conditional-use permits for big-box stores, such as Wal-Mart. The council had the power to halt the development of these stores if economic studies showed they would negatively affect surrounding businesses. Wal-Mart retaliated by gaining enough signatures for a referendum and demanding the council put it on the ballot. The council, however, voted to simply repeal the referendum rather than pay for a special election. Alvarez was among the councilmembers who voted to appease the corporation.

My primary concern when evaluating Alvarez is his lack of experience. At 33 years old and with only a couple years in office, Alvarez’s resume does not stack up against the real contenders in this race.

For now, Alvarez’s skills may be better utilized by continuing his tenure as a councilman and taking the time to develop his political expertise.

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