Feb. 5 2014 09:18 AM

Not exactly independent, not exactly progressive

From left: Randy Frisch (past chairman of San Diego Habitat for Humanity), Father Joe Carroll and Kevin Faulconer
Photo by David Rolland

Kevin Faulconer has been getting lots of mileage out of Father Joe Carroll. The San Diego homelessness-empire builder has appeared at Faulconer's campaign news conferences and been featured prominently in the candidate's TV commercials. It makes sense for Faulconer to take optimum advantage of Carroll's endorsement; Carroll is a local icon who would seem to be a credible, influential leader in the provision of social services in a city whose populace appears to be increasingly caring for those less fortunate.

We wouldn't say Carroll isn't genuinely committed to serving the poor. But his endorsements typically go to business-oriented, taxation-averse Republicans, so his pick for mayor in next week's election is less about which candidate would best help folks mired in poverty than who would take care of the local business community and adhere to Republican economic principles.

When he spoke on Faulconer's behalf at a late-January news conference announcing the Republican candidate's housing plan, Carroll sounded more like a representative of the local Building Industry Association or the Chamber of Commerce than an advocate for affordable housing. What's most important, he said, is to lower the barriers to construction. He also spoke against the City Council's decision to raise what's known as the workforce-housing offset, a fee that developers of commercial property pay to help pay for affordable housing. In so doing, he parroted a dubious Republican talking point: Businesses won't locate here if they have to pay fees. All other local affordable-housing advocates support the fee.

Faulconer's use of Carroll is part of his tactic to out-liberal his liberal opponent, David Alvarez, a Democrat. Faulconer understands that San Diego is not a Republican city; 39.8 percent of registered voters are Democrats while 26.4 percent are Republicans and 28.7 decline to state a party preference.

Faulconer's been fibbing about his past commitment to caring for homeless folks; as a City Council member, he's been downright hostile to them. He's also tried to co-opt the emphasis on neighborhoods, which was Bob Filner's main campaign focus in 2012 and an issue on which Alvarez has far more credibility. As we've pointed out several times, Faulconer's neighborhoods rhetoric is clearly undermined by his outspoken support for a ballot measure that would repeal environmental protections for the working-class residents of Barrio Logan.

Faulconer supports marriage equality now, but he didn't come around on that issue until public opinion began to lead the Republican Party in the proper direction. He claims he's pro-choice but never returned a questionnaire sent to him by Planned Parenthood.

Faulconer wants voters to think he sprung up organically from the grassroots as a man of the people. Even his slogan ("A mayor for all") is nearly identical to Alvarez's ("A mayor for all of us"). During the campaign, Faulconer has tried to shoehorn the word "independent" into just about every sentence he's uttered—remember how voters declining to state a party preference outnumber Republicans? But the truth is that Faulconer's candidacy sprung from a meeting of the most powerful Republicans, after the majority of those present rejected the firebrand Carl DeMaio.

Faulconer's campaign is obviously aimed at voters who haven't been paying attention to civic affairs. Having covered the entirety of his tenure, we can tell you that he'll serve the needs of the Lincoln Club—the conservative business group that's been blanketing San Diego with vile, misleading attack mailers against Alvarez (and Nathan Fletcher last year)—the Chamber of Commerce, the increasingly Republican-aligned San Diego County Taxpayers Association and the local building industry.

If that's what floats your boat, go nuts and vote for Faulconer. But don't vote for him because you think he's for neighborhoods or homeless people or "all." Notwithstanding his and his supporters' cynical, negative, dishonest campaign, he's not an evil person; he simply seems to believe that what's best for society is putting more money in the hands of people who already have the most money. 

We disagree with that, and that's why we've endorsed Alvarez for mayor. It's Alvarez who'll work to grow the middle class in San Diego. It's Alvarez who'll try to help lift people out of poverty. It's Alvarez who'll be sensitive to neighborhood concerns. It's Alvarez who'll better protect clean water and clean air. 

If these things are important to you, vote for David Alvarez and help bring others to the polls.

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


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