Faulconer and Fletcher Both No-Shows at Mayoral Debate
In front of a full audience, the Ocean Beach Town Council held their mayoral election forum last night, Oct. 23rd, at the Masonic Center. Newly-elected president Gretchen Newsom led her first public council meeting and welcomed candidates David Alvarez and Mike Aguirre. Nathan Fletcher sent a representative – whereas no one from Faulconer’s campaign showed.
Sixty people filled up the meeting room on the bottom floor of the two-story building on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard – some had come to hear a presentation on San Diego banning plastic bags.
Newsom cleaned the agenda and got to the forum part of the night, using her favorite expression, “without further a due”.
David Alvarez – a native San Diegan and current City Councilmember – took the floor and explained his modest beginnings. He got into politics as a community activist for his neighborhood and, stressing that his campaign and office would focus on the neighborhoods of the city, Alvarez said,”San Diego is a neighborhood city.”
Audience members were allowed to ask questions, and in response to one about any ordinance on food trucks, Alvarez stated that the rules regarding those commercial ventures on wheels “keep changing”, but he gave a worthy summation of each side of the debate. On the issue of public money for a new Charger stadium, Alvarez was emphatic that he does not want to see tax monies for a stadium.
On medical marijuana dispensaries, Alvarez tried to explain his position. He had voted against the ordinance “because,” he said, “it was not allowing for an equal distribution of dispensaries, ” and now advocates a more balanced spreading out of the medicinal storefronts.
On Ocean Beach, Alvarez said he wants to “maintain the culture and identity of the community,” and that planning has to be careful to ensure those goals. He added that OB’s old infrastructure needs to be updated.
After a round of applause for his opponent, Mike Aguirre – former City Attorney for San Diego – rose and described some of his positions. His primary emphasis during the forum was to rail against public pensions. “We don’t have enough money,” he said, “to pay for everything we need.” His example was the City pays $275 Million in pensions but only $236 Million on the entire San Diego Fire Department – in 2011.
Aguirre also decried the small amounts of funds, he said, spent on roads. He said “our roads need $160 million, but the City council voted on a budget that only has between $20 and $50 million” on roads.
Yet his main focus was to criticize “those who get $300,000 in pensions,” without really explaining who they were exactly and how many of them there were. He said, “every firefighter has to get a 401(k)”.
Turning briefly to his past, Aguirre said that he was the attorney for farm-worker organizer Cezar Chavez and that he “helped save their union.” And he reminded the audience, during questioning, that he was City Attorney who sued the city over the ticket guarantee, and spoke out against “corporate welfare”.
Under more questioning about his “anti-city worker union” stance, Aguirre denied that he was, and continued his diatribe against those “huge” pensions, mentioning that city council members have a pension from the city after only 4 years and the notorious DROP program that allows city employees to “buy-out” their pensions.
As Aguirre started to either sit down or leave, a group of firefighters from OB’s station – a number always show at these town council meetings – began filing out of the room via a side door, and as they were leaving, one swore almost under his breath that he couldn’t stand the “noxious air” in the room, referring directly to Mr. Aguirre.
As Kevin Faulconer and Kevin Fletcher failed to show, the Town Council did allow representatives to give brief talks – but only Fletcher sent anyone (and I didn’t get her name). Fletcher’s rep did tick off a long list of endorsements – including those of many separate unions, that of Gov. Brown, of Congressmen Scott Peters and Juan Vargas, of Marty Block, Lorena Gonzalez, the League of Conservation Voters . Then, someone in the audience said out-loud “but not the Democratic Party” – which is true as the body has come out in favor of Alvarez.
This ended the mayoral forum for the evening, and the town council switched over to the remainder of their agenda – which will be covered in a subsequent post.