Aguirre marches to the beat of his own drum

by Madison Hopkins

As the Nov. 19 special election approaches, one man stands out among the top four mayoral candidates, not as the top contender in polls, endorsements or fundraising, but more so as the candidate who is playing by his own rules, regardless of the outcome.

Mike Aguirre saved San Diego city attorney from 2004 to 2008, prior to losing the bid for re-election and returning to work in the private sector as an attorney. Now, he is using this special election as a platform to demonstrate his standards of political ethics through his campaign.

He has vowed to refrain from accepting financial contributions larger than $250 (a campaign promise he unsuccessfully requested his opponents make as well), run TV ads or even send out campaign mailers. In the current political climate, where more zeros at the end of a check generally equate to more votes in the ballot box, Aguirre believes he is taking a stand against the corruption of politics and that voters will show their appreciation for his honorable ways on election day.

In an attempt to explain his newly established standards, Aguirre told KPBS, “I have managed to build a reputation based on actual work and not advertising. I don’t want to win that way. If I’m going to win, I want to win without being beholden to anyone.”

I commend Aguirre for his respectable intentions. However, the problem with playing by your own set of rules, no matter how well meaning they may be, is that he is intentionally putting himself at a disadvantage with no legitimate support to counteract it. These grand promises of campaign integrity are all well and fine, but without any significant financial backing or advertising, Aguirre is essentially accepting his place as a second-string player in an all-star game.

As of Oct. 20, Aguirre had raised less than $4,000 in contributions to his mayoral campaign, according to the U-T San Diego. To put that into perspective, David Alvarez has raised $1.2 million, Nathan Fletcher raised $1.1 million and Faulconer follows behind with $840,000. Michael Kemmer, the San Diego State student in the mayoral campaign, has earned slightly less than $900. So when looking at financial support, Aguirre, a 64-year-old with extensive political and legal background looks more in league with a 22-year-old college senior than anyone who has a serious chance of winning this election.

Aguirre’s mentality of doing things his own way is nothing new. His tenure as San Diego city attorney was plagued by complaints of his combative leadership style and failure to make compromises. He stubbornly focused this campaign on pension reform, an issue he feels strongly needs to be readdressed, but one that most other candidates have agreed to move on from.

He has practiced as a lawyer for most of his career, giving him a pointedly different outlook on campaign politics and inspiring him to passionately fight to advance his agenda, which causes him to miss the point of public service. Lawyers fight to win, politicians work to compromise. His persistence and determination to win on his own terms while advancing his particular platform may be an ideological victory, but it’s doubtful Aguirre’s strategies will result in anything more tangible than that.

Monica Linzmeier, Photo Editor