Politicians know that potholes mean problems for them. So here was San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer donning gloves and boots and trotting out to Pacific Beach Thursday morning to toss some asphalt on a pothole himself.

For Faulconer, the timing couldn’t be better. Wednesday, he was in New York City trying to convince a room full of billionaire NFL owners he could deliver $350 million in public money to build a new football stadium. Thursday, he got to show regular San Diegans he cares about the meat and potatoes of street repairs.

Faulconer’s photo op means we’ve finally reached critical mass and can play the game we’ve been dreaming of: Who Filled It Better?

Faulconer’s opponents are former City Councilman Carl DeMaio, who took on a pothole in Rancho Bernardo during his own mayoral bid four years ago, and City Councilman David Alvarez, who filled a pothole in Sherman Heights in 2012.

Let’s go to the photos.


Look at the mayor. He’s got his jeans on. Reflective vest for safety.  The only thing that’s missing from his Average Joe costume is a lunch pail.

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Now look at DeMaio. No reflective vest for this guy! Instead, he went with khakis. White oxford shirt. Indeed, the only thing that’s missing from his nerd costume is a pocket protector.

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Alvarez takes a hilarious third path. Yes, he’s got the reflective vest on. But there’s also the tie and shiny shoes. You can’t help but giggle.


Advantage: Alvarez


Faulconer’s furrowing his brow. His perfectly combed hair is just starting to move out of place. He’s got a good grimace going.

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DeMaio has something extra, though. Some panache. See how he’s just gliding with that dirt on his shovel. You can see the joy on his face. For DeMaio, it’s service with a smile.

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Alvarez is all about that big pothole-filling machine, which is a plus. But let’s be honest. He looks pretty awkward trying to use it.


Advantage: DeMaio


Filling potholes is hard work. And it’s important to get it done so you can wake up and do it again tomorrow. That’s why it’s not just about filling potholes, but keeping yourself healthy.

It’s a lesson the mayor seems to have taken to heart. Look at him get in there with that rake. Knees flexed. Back straight. He’s ready to fill a pothole today, tomorrow and the day after that. No problem.

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Then there’s poor DeMaio. That hunch in his back! I’m sure he felt that one the next day. Yikes.

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Alvarez has a nice bend at the hips going here. But his front leg looks real stiff. I’m afraid for that knee.

Advantage: Faulconer


If you’re a politician, the whole reason to have a pothole-filling stunt is for the public to see you fill a pothole. The more cameras, the better!

The mayor sure knows how to demand a crowd. The camera guys are getting shots from every angle. And this was at 7:45 in the morning, too.

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DeMaio had a bit of an audience too. But it wasn’t nearly as much as Faulconer’s. DeMaio does, however, get bonus points for having commanded the presence of an extremely attractive and clearly intelligent reporter in a green polo shirt diligently taking notes.

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Poor Alvarez. We know there was at least one person at the event –someone had to take the photos! – but all he seems to have around him is the real pothole guy.

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Advantage: Faulconer

There you have it. The mayor filled a pothole better than DeMaio and Alvarez. We hope Faulconer relishes his victory. And we hope he comes up with a real plan to fix the city’s streets. Because the one he has right now is so inadequate that his own advisers have been publicly critical of it for more than a year.

All Faulconer photos by Jamie Scott Lytle. All DeMaio photos by Sam Hodgson. All Alvarez photos courtesy of the city of San Diego.

Update: After this post was published, Councilman David Alvarez noted on Twitter that he did not invite media to his pothole-filling excursion.

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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