A Reader’s Guide to Kevin Faulconer

A Reader’s Guide to Kevin Faulconer

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Kevin Faulconer at the Voice of San Diego mayoral debate at The Birch North Park Theatre.

In the week before the Nov. 19 special election to replace disgraced former Mayor Bob Filner, we’re telling you all you need to know about the four major candidates to replace him. Next up is City Councilman Kevin Faulconer.

Seen and Heard

And here’s his appearance on VOSD Radio

The Pitch to Voters

Faulconer’s a safe, steady moderate who knows the city and will continue the legacy of former Mayor Jerry Sanders, with a pro-neighborhoods twist.

Three Big Issues

Faulconer’s the city’s longest-tenured councilman and worked closely with Sanders during his time in office. During Filner’s term, Faulconer led the minority bloc of Republican Council members. The issues Faulconer has seized on represent an effort to straddle the most popular aspects of Sanders’ and Filner’s agendas. He wants to hold the line on employee compensation while investing in neighborhoods.

• Employee Compensation and Outsourcing

Faulconer backed ballot measures to allow competitive bidding for city services, called managed competition, and give 401(k)s instead of pensions to most new employees. He’s the most aggressive proponent of managed competition, despite its recent hiccups, and promises to be the most stringent against across-the-board raises for employees.

• Public Safety

Boosting officer recruitment and retention make up the most of Faulconer’s police plan. He wants to speed up the police hiring process, increase investment in equipment and find ways to bump officer take-home pay aside from across-the-board salary hikes.  Faulconer courted the police union’s endorsement during the campaign, but it eventually went to former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher.

Faulconer also pledges to end emergency medical response time disparities between neighborhoods by 2016. He calls doing so a “moral obligation.”

• Streets and Sidewalks

If Filner successfully branded Sanders’ tenure as one that cared about downtown at the expense of neighborhoods, the criticism should apply to Faulconer, too. Faulconer was Sanders’ closest ally on the Council and represented downtown before the city’s most recent redistricting. Faulconer, however, can point to his neighborhood-centered initiatives, such as successful ballot measures to ban alcohol at the beach and increase funding for Mission Bay Park, as examples of his bona fides.

Of the major candidates, Faulconer has pledged to put the most money right away toward improving the city’s deteriorating streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure. That’s a huge neighborhood issue. But Faulconer doesn’t have a consistent position on borrowing money to pay for repairs.

His Background

Faulconer always seems to pop up as a replacement after someone else screws up. His political history reveals that he’s had great success in special elections, where his risk-free, no-frills persona has particular appeal:

This happens to Faulconer because he’s safe, agreeable and competent, the kind of guy voters would want after the person they elected turned out to be a mess. It also happens because Faulconer’s largely been a follower in politics, the kind of guy who relies on others’ bold stand instead of taking one himself.

Faulconer was student body president at San Diego State University and a PR man before winning a City Council seat.

Where He’s Weak

Faulconer faces headwinds in this campaign. He best represents the downtown establishment that voters rejected when they picked Filner. His Republican Party affiliation goes against the city’s consistent leftward march, a fact his campaign has tried to address by objecting to stories that talk about his GOP membership.

And it’s not like Faulconer has an outsize personality to rise above these connections. By and large Faulconer’s deferred to others on big issues throughout his political career. It’s fair to wonder whether he’ll continue deferring – and to whom – if he’s elected.

Top Endorsements

About 30 of the city’s Republican powerbrokers picked Faulconer as their candidate for mayor in late August. The decision cleared the field of other contenders on the right.

Faulconer has the backing of the local Republican Party and business groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce and Lincoln Club of San Diego County. Sanders and the Council’s three Republicans support him, too. You can see his full list of endorsements here.

How He Wins

As the lone major Republican in the race, Faulconer’s virtually assured a spot in the runoff. The suspense for Faulconer will likely be which opponent he’ll face. Faulconer and his supporters clearly believe Faulconer will do better against Democratic City Councilman David Alvarez than Fletcher, and they’re spending boatloads of cash to boost Alvarez and knock Fletcher down.

This strategy worked for former City Councilman Carl DeMaio and his Republican allies in the last mayoral primary, when they promoted Filner at the expense of Fletcher, who finished third. If Faulconer and the GOP can knock out Fletcher again, they’ll have to hope this election will ultimately work out better for them than it did the last time.

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Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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4 comments
LincolnPickard
LincolnPickard

I will instruct the chief of police to issue CCW's to the law abiding citizens of the City of San Diego as provided by law and the strong mayor form of government. I am a pro-life Republican. I believe marriage is between one man and one women. I will fight for lower tax rates and less government regulation (e.i. limited government). I will fight for "Christmas" on the Prado. For more details: http://www.VotePickard.com

Movervet
Movervet

No whining here. Just a little logic. Faulconer's campaign literature and advertising implicitly state his failings. He claims he will spend savings on pensions, not yet realized, to to the benefit of communities which have been under-served in the past. If it is true that those communities, the ones whose votes he will need to win, have been under-served then they have been under-served by long time councilman Faulconer and his ally and endorser, former Mayor Jerry Sanders. It is disingenuous to promise to fix a problem for which he is at least partially to blame without owning up to that blame.
Financial Services companies are required to tell you that past perfomance is no guarantee of future results. In politics, however, past performance is almost always a sure indicator of what the future will be.

Don Blucher
Don Blucher

The perennial "whine" of the Progressive Left has always been, "If only there was a Republican politician who would sit down with us, listen to our concerns, and work with us to solve our citizens' issues........" Well, they now have such a guy in Kevin Faulconer and all-of-a-sudden they're now duty-bound to try and find something with which to discredit the candidate. Folks, it ain't there. Faulconer has the most experience and a history of working with his colleagues for the betterment of this city. Get over it, and give him his shot.....You can always vote for another guy(or gal), next time.

Don Blucher
Don Blucher subscriber

The perennial "whine" of the Progressive Left has always been, "If only there was a Republican politician who would sit down with us, listen to our concerns, and work with us to solve our citizens' issues........" Well, they now have such a guy in Kevin Faulconer and all-of-a-sudden they're now duty-bound to try and find something with which to discredit the candidate. Folks, it ain't there. Faulconer has the most experience and a history of working with his colleagues for the betterment of this city. Get over it, and give him his shot.....You can always vote for another guy(or gal), next time.