Jan. 8 2014 08:52 AM

Surprise! The liberal in the race gets our endorsement-again

David Alvarez
Photo by David Rolland

Wait, wasn't the special primary election for mayor of San Diego just a few weeks ago? Seems like it, doesn't it? Well, it's almost time to vote again, this time in the runoff between candidates David Alvarez and Kevin Faulconer: Mail-in and early voting starts on Monday, Jan. 13.

When it comes to whom we're endorsing, there ain't much suspense. We endorsed Alvarez in the primary, and he's still in the race, so he's still our guy.

Whereas Nathan Fletcher and Mike Aguirre added shades of gray to the palate of options in the primary election, the remaining pair offers a stark choice. Alvarez and Faulconer are far apart in how they view the role of government and what sort of people would be invited into the room when it comes to making crucial decisions about the city's future.

Despite being a Republican in a city where only 26.5 percent of registered voters identify as Republicans, Faulconer does his best to emulate San Diego. He smartly downplays his party affiliation, and during the primary election, his spokesperson bristled when Faulconer was called "conservative," pointing out that Faulconer is socially liberal. Though, he hardly leads in that direction. For example, it was just five years ago that Faulconer decided that gay and lesbian couples should have the same marriage rights as straight couples.

These days, Faulconer is your garden-variety economic conservative who wants to privatize government as much as possible and is hostile to people who need the most help. When he represented Downtown on the City Council, before the latest round of redistricting, he tried to get the city out from under a court order that barred police from ticketing homeless people for sleeping outdoors. There, he was doing the bidding of condo residents and business owners. More recently, he's latched himself to the campaign to overturn a recently approved update to the Barrio Logan Community Plan. There, he's doing the bidding of the ship-repair industry, which is at odds with working-class neighborhood residents.

We see Barrio Logan as a microcosm of the difference between Faulconer and Alvarez.

Faulconer's willing to snub lower-income folks who've been fighting for decades for a more pollution-free life in favor of an industry that's not in any foreseeable danger under the approved plan—and in favor of a dubious trickle-down economic strategy in which wealthier folks are taken care of first and jobs and prosperity rain down on everyone else. He was also quick to make outrageous claims about severe job losses as a result of the plan, in order to bolster his position—claims that he's since been forced to back away from. Faulconer's all too willing to throw away a proper, painstaking, democratic land-use-planning process because some friends in high places in the business community didn't love the outcome.

Alvarez, meanwhile, would lead from the bottom up. He'd make decisions based on what's best for the middle class and those who are struggling to join it. As he's shown in Barrio Logan, he'd have the backs of neighborhood residents when they need equal access to services or are up against powerful interests. He'd also be far better than Faulconer at forging a path toward a more sustainable and energy-efficient San Diego, and, unlike Faulconer, he'd be an advocate for the city's professional land-use planners.

While Faulconer would, to some extent, owe an election victory to the city's business elites, Alvarez would be somewhat indebted to local organized labor, which has supplied much of his campaign funding. Given that choice, we'll take the special interest that looks out for working families. Though there are times when labor's interests don't align with the interests of the city as a whole, we trust that Alvarez understands the impacts, for example, of granting employee-compensation packages that the city can't afford.

And to those voters who worried about Alvarez's youth and inexperience, we understand the concern. However, Faulconer has no more executive experience than Alvarez. Faulconer was a public-relations guy and then a two-term City Council member. Alvarez was a staffer for a state legislator and then a one-term City Council member. Faulconer has been involved in city government longer, but each would have to hire people who know how to run a huge bureaucracy.

We strongly urge you to vote for David Alvarez for mayor of San Diego.

What do you think? Write to editor@sdcitybeat.com.


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