Mayor Profiles: Four candidates in the lead for Nov. 19 San Diego mayoral race

By Elizabeth Marie Himchak

A year after San Diegans voted for a mayor, they are heading to the polls to repeat the process.

The special election to determine who will serve out Bob Filner’s remaining term will be Tuesday, Nov. 19. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, the two leading candidates will be in a run-off early next year.

There are 11 names on the ballot, but recently Bruce Coons withdrew. Of the front-runner candidates for the non-partisan office, Michael Aguirre, David Alvarez and Nathan Fletcher are Democrats. (Fletcher made a recent switch after being a Republican then independent in last year’s mayoral race.) Kevin Faulconer is a Republican. Their profiles are featured.

Michael J. Aguirre

is a 64-year-old Banker’s Hill resident and native San Diegan who has lived here continuously since 1980. He is the divorced father of two adult children.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University, his juris doctorate from the University of California Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law and a master’s degree from the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Aguirre is an attorney and from 2004 to 2008 was San Diego City Attorney. His campaign website is at

“We need to return the governance of the City of San Diego to the people of San Diego,” Aguirre said when asked why he is running for mayor. “I will work to restore integrity to the Mayor’s office and support policies that help the greatest number of San Diego residents. Making every-day services better for people is what local government should be about.”

He said the three greatest issues impacting the city revolve around the delivery of vital city services. Aguirre said they are:

• Repairing streets and sidewalks, and providing dependable water and sewer infrastructure;

• Ensuring libraries and recreation centers are open and operating; and

• Developing a secure water supply and negotiating fairer energy rates from SDG&E.

As for how he would bring change to these areas, Aguirre said, “It’s a matter of priorities. While it’s nice to have a beautiful downtown library, I would rather see our existing community libraries open more hours. While keeping the Chargers in San Diego by finding a way to build a new stadium is important, assuring that parks and community recreation centers are open for our young people is more important.

“Additionally, we need to explore alternative funding sources. The city isn’t out of the woods concerning pensions. In fact, unfunded pensions cost taxpayers almost $4,500 per household per year and those costs are anticipated to double soon. … more of our tax dollars are going to pay for city retiree benefits (than) are budgeted for firefighters. … I want to reduce our water and electricity rates so we have more independence in making spending priorities.”

David Alvarez

is a 33-year-old Logan Heights resident and native San Diegan who has lived here all his life. He and his wife, Xochitl, have a young daughter, Izel. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from San Diego State University and been District 8’s City Councilman for three years.

His campaign website is at

“San Diego needs a leader who will fight to make government work for families and neighborhoods, not just for special interests,” Alvarez said when asked why he is running for mayor. “We must invest in our neighborhoods, create jobs, support schools, ensure long-term water security, and make City Hall more open and transparent.

“To accomplish these goals, we need a mayor who engages with the public and gives everyone the respect and dignity they deserve from their government,” he said. “I have a strong track record of standing up for neighborhoods and getting things done at City Hall. As mayor, I would continue that work to lead San Diego forward.”

Alvarez said his “Blueprint for San Diego’s Future” — available on his website — explains his plan to address city issues. He said the three greatest are:

• Investment in neighborhood infrastructure,

• Protecting our natural resources, and

• Creating jobs for San Diegans.

To bring change to these, Alvarez said, “To invest in neighborhood infrastructure we must first better use existing data to gain a more accurate picture of our true backlog of infrastructure projects so we know which are the highest priorities. To better protect our natural resources we must invest in a potable reuse system, which will provide a safe and sustainable source of drinking water, while also protecting local sources of water.

“Finally, to ensure we are creating jobs for San Diegans, we must rely on connecting employers and workforce training providers to the neighborhoods, as well as targeting employers in high growth/high wage sectors.”

Kevin Faulconer

is a 46-year-old Point Loma resident who has lived in San Diego for almost three decades. He and his wife, Katherine, have two children — Jack, 12, and Lauren, 10.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from San Diego State University and been District 2’s City Councilman for seven years.

His campaign website is at

“I’m running for mayor to return honesty and integrity to the mayor’s office and to bring back the type of leadership that brings people together to actually get things done,” Faulconer said.

When asked to identify the three greatest issues impacting the city, Faulconer said they are:

• Returning trust to City Hall and the mayor’s office,

• Improving our neighborhoods, including repairing our roads and rebuilding the police department, and

• Strengthening the local economy and creating good-paying jobs for San Diegans.

As for how he would bring change to these issues, he said, “Voters can trust me to continue the fiscal reforms I’ve brought to City Hall as a Councilmember. I will continue to cut government waste through competitive bidding and direct the savings toward improving our neighborhoods, streets and public safety.

“I will also bring back certainty for businesses ready to create quality jobs,” Faulconer said. “My five-point jobs plan will protect the jobs we have in the tourism, defense and life science sectors, create new jobs in the technology and innovative economies, and help prepare our children for careers in the emerging fields of science and engineering.”

Nathan Fletcher

is a 36-year-old University City resident who has lived in San Diego for a decade. He and his wife, Mindy, have two sons, Zach, 5, and Caleb, 2.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from California Baptist University, is a senior director at Qualcomm and professor of practice at the University of California, San Diego.

Fletcher represented the 75th District in the state Assembly from 2008 to 2012.

His campaign website is at


“I am running for mayor of San Diego because I care deeply about our city and have the leadership skills and experience needed to move San Diego in the right direction,” Fletcher said. “It’s time we commit ourselves to the mission of rebuilding and moving our city forward. We need to focus on creating good jobs that provide good wages, rebuilding our city’s ailing neighborhoods and adequately funding public safety.

“I know that I have the leadership and management skills to get things done, bring people together, build consensus and find common solutions to the complex problems we face,” he added.

Fletcher said the three greatest issues facing the city are:

• Neglect of neighborhoods, including crumbling streets, broken sidewalks and neglected facilities;

• Need for good-paying jobs that grow and strengthen the middle class and enable families to buy a home and send their kids to college; and

• Declining public safety since San Diego has fewer police officers per capita than any other large U.S. city, inadequate coverage for fire and emergency medical services, and failing communications technology for police patrol.

To strengthen neighborhoods Fletcher said he would rebuild ailing infrastructure and improve the quality of city services. His plan to create jobs and make San Diego the world’s most innovative includes having locally invented products also produced at local skilled-manufacturing facilities. In addition, he would eliminate bureaucratic hurdles in order to help small businesses succeed.

As for public safety, “I’ll work to eradicate public safety disparities like 9-1-1 response times, which are far longer in some neighborhoods than others,” and implement his plan for improving police recruitment and retention plus increase emergency responder coverage.