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Many of us have political fatigue.
We just survived a destructive game of chicken in Washington D.C., as members of Congress insisted they would rather shut down the government than compromise.
Here in San Diego, we experienced what some call our summer of discontent during which a progressive mayor many of us worked hard to elect a year ago shamed our city and shattered our dreams.
It is small wonder, then, that many San Diegans metaphorically stick their fingers in their ears and chant “la-la-la-la” whenever someone brings up the Nov. 19 special mayoral election. Others just want to get it over with, and will vote for the least objectionable guy they think can win.
I believe we can do better than that. I believe we can find the energy and the will to recapture our vision of a mayor who works for every San Diegan and every neighborhood. I believe we can restore values-based leadership to City Hall. I believe we can, and should, elect David Alvarez.
Alvarez’s values were shaped by where he came from. He is the son of a janitor and a fast-food worker. He grew up in an industrial area whose people have often been forgotten by the movers and shakers downtown. His home neighborhood of Barrio Logan has suffered from toxic pollution that makes residents sick. His neighborhood has very few parks and open spaces, or even decent grocery stores. Alvarez knows the ticket to a better life is education because he was given that chance.
These are the experiences that led him into public service, and that he will bring to the office of mayor. These are also the experiences shared by working- and middle-class families throughout the city.
In his time on City Council, Alvarez has become known for bringing people together for the common good. His compromise community plan for Barrio Logan reverses decades of bad planning that placed homes next to more industrial uses and ensures clean air for residents, while also preserving business interests. He also fought to hold banks accountable for the condition of foreclosed properties so they don’t attract crime and blight and drag down the surrounding neighborhood. He has brought new businesses into his community.
Alvarez knows how the city operates and will be able to get to work on his first day as mayor. He already has a solid track record of cutting waste by ending city programs that aren’t working effectively. He pushed to save taxpayers money by eliminating perks such as cell phones for city employees.
These days, it is fashionable for candidates to talk about the importance of neighborhoods. Alvarez has fought to have public dollars spent on services for residents in his district since his first day as councilman. As mayor, he will fight for every neighborhood.
Most important, Alvarez will restore integrity to City Hall. We need to know we can count on our mayor to say what he means and to mean what he says. San Diegans are entitled to government that operates in the open, not behind closed doors. We haven’t always gotten that, but with Alvarez as mayor, we will.
I trust Alvarez to always put the city, not himself, first. I am not alone in that. The Democratic Party, the Labor Council and the Sierra Club agree.
But high-profile endorsements, along with an outstanding record in office and a great vision for the city are not enough to get Alvarez elected.
It takes faith that the same vision we voted for last November will win again, if we do our part. It takes the will and the energy to overcome our political fatigue, and refusing to settle for less than the best.
Toni Atkins is the majority leader of the California State Assembly. Atkins’ commentary has been edited for clarity. See anything we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here. Want to respond? Submit a commentary.