It’s been the year of the special election in San Diego and that’s come at significant cost.

The city spent nearly $774,000 on the election to replace former District 4 Councilman Tony Young earlier this year and it’s expected to pay millions for the contest to determine a new mayor. The city expects to drop as much as $4.7 million for the Nov. 19 election alone and an expected February runoff will only add to the bill.

But city voters won’t have pay up again if either David Alvarez or Kevin Faulconer, both City Council members, wins the mayor’s race.

By the runoff date, both men will have less than a year left in their City Council terms. That means the City Council can simply appoint a temporary replacement if either wins, City Clerk Liz Maland said.

City rules require the appointment within 30 business days of the vacancy.

If either current councilman wins the special election, his appointee would only serve for about nine months.  He or she couldn’t seek the seat in the elections already scheduled for next year.

Alvarez, who represents District 8, is up for re-election and is likely to hold onto his seat in the June primary. Thus far, only political newcomer Valley Paul Coleman of San Ysidro has filed initial paperwork to run for the post.

Term limits will keep Faulconer from running for re-election to his District 2 City Council seat next year. Attorney Sarah Boot and current District 6 Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, whose political boundaries changed under the latest round of redistricting, have both announced plans to vie for Faulconer’s seat next year.

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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