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Republican City Councilman Kevin Faulconer spoke Spanish Wednesday morning when he announced his run for mayor of San Diego. He also emphasized neighborhoods.

“We will heal our city and create a community where every neighborhood is strong, and every San Diegan has the opportunity to reach their full potential,” Faulconer said.

Both of Faulconer’s moves nod to the city’s changing demographics and the lingering power of former Mayor Bob Filner’s message of prioritizing San Diego’s neighborhoods over downtown.

The neighborhoods pitch represents a huge shift for both Faulconer and his top Democratic opponent so far, Nathan Fletcher.

Before the latest round of redistricting, Faulconer represented downtown on the City Council and has long been one of its champions for more investment and mega-projects, such as the Convention Center expansion and new central library. Fletcher cut his teeth in 2010 in the state Legislature with a massive deal to send billions in future tax dollars to downtown redevelopment.

When that deal happened, Faulconer was incensed that Fletcher, a guy whose legislative district covered La Jolla, Mira Mesa and northern cities, brought home downtown’s bacon. But Faulconer couldn’t bring himself to formally protest the move because his own supporters loved it.

In the wake of his campaign announcement, Fletcher is trying to reclaim his 2010 deal as a benefit for the whole region, had Gov. Jerry Brown not killed it along with redevelopment.

Republican aides noted Wednesday that Faulconer has been speaking Spanish at press conferences for a while. Faulconer has touted Ocean Beach and other neighborhoods he’s represented when taking policy stands.

Still, both will be rolling out “neighborhood first” ideas while tethered to key downtown supporters. Faulconer benefited from downtown business leaders helping to clear the Republican field for him to run. Fletcher works for Qualcomm, whose founder Irwin Jacobs saved the new central library project and tried and failed to remake Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama.

Disclosure: Irwin Jacobs is a major donor to Voice of San Diego.

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Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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