In the San Diego special election for mayor, two city councilmen will face off against each other in the February runoff election.
The candidates are vying to secede Bob Filner, who resigned his city hall office on August 30 after only nine months on the job as a result of being engulfed in sexual harassment allegations. Filner was the first Democrat to be elected San Diego mayor in 20 years.
On Tuesday, Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, won 44 percent of the vote while Democrat David Alvarez received about 25 percent in the 11 candidate field. Alvarez and fellow Democrat Nathan Fletcher where nearly neck-and-neck for second place. Before all the votes were counted, Fletcher — a Republican turned Independent turned Democrat — endorsed Alvarez, however. “I told Councilman Alvarez he has my full support and endorsement moving forward,” Fletcher said. “I believe he will be a good mayor.” If elected, Alvarez, 33 — who ran on a “neighborhoods first” platform and had the support of several influential labor unions — would be the city’s first Hispanic mayor.
No candidate broke 50 percent, thereby necessitating a runoff early next year. Only 35 percent of the city’s registered voters cast a ballot in the contest. Reporting on Faulconer, 46, the only GOP candidate in the field, AP noted that “During his seven years on the City Council, the mild-mannered former public relations executive was a close ally of Mayor Jerry Sanders, Filner’s moderate Republican predecessor. He made one of his biggest splashes by supporting a ban on alcohol consumption on city beaches after a Labor Day melee in 2007 in his oceanfront district.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune, observed that Tuesday’s results may not be indicative of what will happen in round two: “While the results gave Faulconer a decisive victory, the road to becoming San Diego’s 36th mayor is anything but certain. Democrats (40 percent) far outnumber Republicans (27 percent) among the city’s registered voters, which poses a problem for any Republican trying to win a citywide election. It’s also been 27 years since the winner of a primary for an open mayor’s seat has been the eventual winner of the runoff… “
The Union-Tribune added that Faulconer “ran as a fiscal conservative and social moderate who helped overhaul San Diego’s beleaguered pension system and authored a 2008 initiative to direct funds to Mission Bay Park.”