San Diego’s Special Mayoral Election: Meet the Candidates – Part 1

by on October 4, 2013 · 2 comments

in Election, Politics, San Diego

The five big name players, in alphabetical order

Special ElectionBy Doug Porter

Following the resignation of Bob Filner it seemed for a while like everybody wanted to be Mayor of San Diego. Nearly forty people pulled the paperwork, hinted to the news media or issued press releases proclaiming their willingness to become the top political player in America’s eighth largest city. Now we are down to 11 men (there are no women candidates) who say they want the job.

Political pollsters will tell you that, after the President, most voters identify with the mayor of their city as being the personification of their government. Loyalty to one’s country trumps civic pride, but not by much–which might explain the passion surrounding the rise and fall of Bob Filner.

Beyond the man’s partisan identification, there was a sense among community activists that Filner’s election was the start of something big. Allegations about his bad behavior unleashed the kind of disappointed anger not often seen outside the familial unit. The real rage came from the people thought to be his allies. His known enemies, with a couple of notable exceptions, sat back to ‘enjoy’ the show.

The expectation of increased neighborhood empowerment lives on in San Diego’s political consciousness, even as Filner’s short reign has been denigrated as the worst of times for the city. All the major candidates now include some messaging about neighborhoods and community empowerment, to the point where you have to wonder if these words even have any real meaning anymore.

We’ll be writing a lot of the mayoral campaigns in the coming weeks for the November 19th special election. This article and the one following it tomorrow will simply be introductions. The wording and formatting of the candidate statements is taken directly from the City Clerk. The biographies come from the candidate’s websites. And included are links (I think) will be useful in giving insight as to what these guys are all about.

These won’t be a “static” articles. I hope to come back frequently to add links and information. And if you’ll look at the upper right hand corner of this (and any) page you’ll see a picture of some seasonal political pumpkins linking to all of SD Free Press’ ongoing coverage.

One last note: the candidate’s statements are formatted pretty much as released by the City Clerk. This isn’t such a big deal with the major candidates, but as you’ll see in part 2, some of the minor candidates struggled with it.

Michael J. Aguirre


Candidate Statement:

We need to return the City of San Diego to the People of San Diego.
That is why I am running for Mayor.
This election provides an historic opportunity to conduct the people’s business in a fairer, more thoughtful and representative manner.
We need a New Politics for San Diego – not based on endorsements, special-interest contributions, private agendas, or the self-interested few.
I will work to restore integrity to the Mayor’s office and support policies that help the greatest number of San Diego residents.
Making things better for people is what local government should be about.
As Mayor, I will focus on the delivery of city services:
1) Repairing streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure
2)Ensuring libraries and recreation centers are open and operating
3)Providing a dependable, affordable water supply
4)Negotiating lower energy rates from SDG&E
My life has been dedicated to serving the public interest. As your Mayor, I pledge to continue that commitment.
I would be honored to have your support.
Together, we can build a better San Diego and ensure a prosperous future.

Biographic info: (from candidate’s website)

Mike Aguirre has been an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. He was a lawyer for the same committee as Robert F. Kennedy in the U.S. Senate. He served as legislative counsel for the California Legislature, and he also was the San Diego City Attorney.

Mike has a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, a law degree from UC Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from Arizona State University. Further, Mike taught a course on the presidency of John F. Kennedy at the University of Southern California.

Wikipedia page:

Facebook page:

UT-San Diego article about candidacy:

UT-San Diego Meet the Candidates:

SD City Beat article about his legacy as City Attorney:

NBC7/Gene Cubbison article/video on candidacy:

UT-San Diego article: A whole bunch of history about Aguirre that you might not know.

Other notable fact: Mike Aguirre has announced that his campaign for mayor of San Diego will not accept contributions over $250.

David Alvarez

Family_2012Candidate Statement:

San Diego City Councilmember

Former Councilwoman Donna Fry
Assemblywoman Toni Atkins

David, the son of a janitor and fast food worker, was born and raised in Barrio Logan where he still lives with his wife and 4-year old daughter.
As a progressive leader, David cares deeply about women’s health, equality for all, protecting the environment, and fair wages for working families.
On the City Council, David brings people together to find solutions to the challenges facing our city:

  • Solved a $47 million budget deficit
  • Restored vital services to police and fire departments, parks and libraries
  • Passed a law protecting neighborhood property values by holding banks accountable during foreclosure

As Mayor, David Alvarez will:

  • Create partnerships with businesses to rebuild our neighborhoods and create jobs
  • Enact a Climate Action Plan to make San Diego one of the greenest cities in the country
  • Run an open and transparent government that seeks public input and involvement
  • Eliminate government waste and maintain a balanced budget

Understanding that our city has been through a crisis in management, David brings a record of accomplishments to effectively lead our city forward with dignity and respect.

Biographic info: (from candidate’s website)

David grew up in the Barrio Logan community of San Diego, the neighborhood on the working waterfront that has a long history of environmental degradation, high asthma rates, and industrial-residential conflicts. His childhood home was next door to a chrome plating plant, and he can trace his own asthma to the constant presence of toxic emissions affecting residential areas, school playgrounds, and parks. That experience sharpened his resolve to fight for social, economic and environmental justice.

He began his career as a social services worker and after-school teacher. In 2003, he was selected to the prestigious Capitol Fellows Program where he served under the Secretary of State.

After his return to San Diego, David worked with a company that develops new opportunities for affordable housing, and before his own election, proudly represented Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny as a community liaison to the neighborhoods he grew up in.

Elected to the San Diego City Council in 2010, David is currently Chair of the Natural Resources & Culture Committee, Vice Chair of the Land Use & Housing Committee, and a member of the Budget & Finance and Rules & Economic Development Committees. Additionally, he serves on the San Diego Regional County Airport Authority, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System Board, SANDAG Borders Committee, Otay Valley Regional Park Policy Committee, Bayshore Bikeway Working Group, and the San Diego Consortium Policy Board. He most recently joined the Board of Director’s for Local Progress: a national municipal policy network.

Wikipedia page:

Facebook page:

UT-San Diego article about his candidacy:

UT-San Diego Meet the Candidates:

SD City Beat article urging him to run:

Voice of San Diego article:

SD Free Press articles: Fletcher Versus Alvarez: The Battle for the Soul of San Diego’s Democratic Party, Alvarez Gets The Nod from Democratic Party as Mayoral Election Takes Shape, Passionate Debate Ends with Alvarez Getting the Backing of SD Democrats for Equality

Other notable facts: Alvarez has been endorsed by the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council and the Democratic Party of San Diego

Bruce Coons

bruce-coons1Candidate Statement:

A San Diego resident for 55 years, Bruce is executive director of Save Our Heritage Organization. He has dedicated his life to protecting cultural and historic resources, advancing neighborhood revitalization, and economic development.

Bruce is best known as the person who saved Balboa Park from a destructive redevelopment and paid parking plan. Parks, open space, the ocean, bays, and rivers are essential to our quality of life.

Bruce has a track record of forging consensus with government, business, non-profit and community stakeholders. A highly successful businessman,with large company management and entrepreneurial background. An elected member of two community-planning boards, where community issues and political realities meet, overlap or clash with residents needs.

Residents first is not a slogan, it is a promise. While new development is important to our economy, residents’ needs must come first. Well versed in issues important to all San Diegans, jobs, education, safe and healthy environments, Bruce asks voters to choose his residents-first platform over outside interests.

Bruce will represent, promote and protect a San Diego for all San Diegans with a solid vision for the future, building on San Diego’s nearly 250-year history and improving our quality of life as his priority.

Biographic info: (from candidate’s website)

Bruce Coons moved to San Diego from Pomona with his family at age four. He became fascinated with San Diego history and at age ten became the youngest-ever member of the San Diego Historical Society. Bruce graduated from Point Loma High School and later studied theater at Cal Western and anthropology at USD. He and wife Alana have been married since 1985; together they have had a historic restoration business for over 25 years. Bruce is one of the foremost experts in Spanish and Mexican cultural heritage of California.

Bruce comes from an entrepreneurial family. His grandmother, Ruby Coons, founded Dreamer Campers, creators of the innovative cabover camper. Like many teens, Bruce delivered pizzas. He also became a union box factory worker and later worked as a contract archaeologist.

After teaming up with some high school friends in a startup high-tech company, Bruce became a key management team member in four successful startups. The largest of these was Systech Corporation. As its third employee during six years with Systech Bruce was instrumental in building the company to a shipping rate of 30 million dollars. In 1986, Systech was featured on the cover of INC. magazine as the 23rd fastest-growing company in the U.S. Bruce managed the manufacturing department and then led the purchasing and materials department. His negotiating skills were crucial to maintaining Systech’s competitive advantage.

After more than a decade in high tech, Bruce spent six years in public purchasing with Sweetwater Water Authority. He remains a Lifetime Certified Purchasing Manager in both public and private purchasing.

Bruce accepted his first major position in the non-profit world in 1998 when he was elected President of the nonprofit, now 44-year-old Save Our Heritage Organisation. He has been serving as Executive Director from 2000 to the present. Under Bruce’s management and leadership, SOHO is now known as one of the most influential and effective cultural and historic preservation organizations in the nation.

Facebook page:

San Diego Reader community blog post:

UT-San Diego Meet the Candidates:

Kevin Faulconer

kevin faulconer profile photokevin-faulconerCandidate Statement:

Leadership – Integrity – Proven Record-Consensus Builder

“Kevin’s honesty, integrity, and ability to bring people together to get things done are just what our city needs today.”- Jerry Sanders

I have a track record of doing what’s right, not what’s politically convenient.

On the council I’ve been a reformer who helped turn the city around.

  • Passed fiscal reforms, saving over $1 billion
  • Increased street repair, supported libraries

I get things done because I’ll work with anyone who has good ideas.

  • Negotiated a bipartisan agreement to end the latest scandal at City Hall
  • Led a partnership of environmentalists and businesses to preserve Mission Bay

As Mayor I’ll:

  • Prioritize fixing streets and funding law enforcement
  • Create accountability and transparency at City Hall
  • Continue my commitment to protect our beaches and environment
  • Partner with schools to expand after-school programs and reduce overcrowding
  • Encourage economic growth to bring back good paying jobs for working families

Above all else I promise not to change who I am just to win an election. I want to lead San Diego, but I won’t sacrifice my integrity in the process. If you believe San Diego’s brightest days are still ahead, I’d be honored to have your vote.

Biographic Info: (from candidate’s website)

Kevin Faulconer was elected to the City Council to help heal the city following the last mayoral resignation in 2006. He has worked hard every day since then to repair the city’s finances and credibility. Through Kevin’s efforts, the City regained its credit rating, balanced its budget and has taken real action to increase funding for street repair.

Kevin is focused on restoring trust and integrity to the mayor’s office, and increasing financial stability, transparency and accountability at City Hall. He is proudly committed to getting the most for our tax dollars, growing our economy, protecting our environment and beaches, and delivering results for all San Diego neighborhoods.

Kevin has a track record of success and getting things done for San Diego. In 2008, he took a lead role in writing the Mission Bay Park Initiative, which passed with 67% of the vote. The measure ensures money generated in Mission Bay Park is invested there and at other city parks, protecting our environment and supporting San Diego’s tourism economy and jobs.

In 2010, Kevin and a handful of others led the campaign against a massive sales tax hike; voters joined Kevin to overwhelmingly reject the increase. In 2011, Kevin voted to reduce retiree health care costs by $800 million over 30 years through a landmark reform effort. In 2012, Kevin co-authored the Comprehensive Pension Reform ballot initiative to end the broken pension system and create a fair and affordable retirement plan for City employees. In 2013, he negotiated a historic 5-year labor agreement that locks in pension reform and saves a generation of taxpayers $1 billion.
As Audit Committee chair, Kevin has helped identify more than $50 million in opportunities to improve the effectiveness of City services, reduce costs and cut red tape. Kevin continues to be a tireless advocate for full implementation of efficiencies including managed competition – the voter-approved program for reducing government waste through competitive bidding of city services.

Kevin is a proud graduate of San Diego State University where he served in student government. Prior to being elected, Kevin worked in public relations for more than a decade and was vice president of a leading firm where he managed complex projects within strict budget guidelines.

He and his wife, Katherine, a small business owner, live in Point Loma with their school-aged children Jack and Lauren.

Wikipedia page:

Facebook page:

UT-San Diego profile:

OB Rag analysis of his candidacy:

Voice of San Diego story about how he came to be the GOP front runner:

UT- San Diego Meet the Candidates:

Other notable fact: Kevin Faulconer has been endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Republican Party.

Nathan Fletcher

Fletcher-Family-Photo-April-2012-283x237Candidate Statement:

Nathan Fletcher is a veteran of the Marine Corps, businessman, Professor, father and former member of the California State Assembly.

Nathan believes that San Diegans deserve a city government that gets back to basics, rebuilds and moves forward. As Mayor, he will get San Diego’s budget back on track, with a focus on important priorities like creating jobs, improving education and managing city services efficiently.

Nathan also knows that our political system can and must do better. After returning home from military service in Iraq, he saw veterans not receiving the care they deserved, and has been a tireless advocate on their behalf.

Nathan was also considered one of the most effective legislators in the State assembly, based on his ability to produce successful legislation – and his belief that getting things done is more important than voting a party line.

Nathan brought both sides together to pass Chelsea’s Law, which provides a one-strike, life without parole penalty for violent sex acts against a child.

Nathan lives in San Diego with his wife Mindy and their sons Zach and Caleb.

Biographic info: (from candidate’s website)

Nathan Fletcher is a Democrat, family man, business executive, educator, news commentator, former California Assemblyman, and a proud veteran of the United States Marine Corps.

Fletcher currently serves as a senior director for Qualcomm Inc. In this capacity, Fletcher focuses on innovative ways to use wireless mobile technology to transform the lives of underserved people in emerging economies, including public-private partnerships and other global initiatives. He also teaches a Political Science course at the University of California, San Diego where he engages students in thoughtful debate and discussion on local, statewide, national, and global issues, and serves as a news analyst Fox 5 San Diego and columnist for San Diego Magazine.

During Fletcher’s tenure as a State Assemblyman representing California’s 75th District, he draftedChelsea’s Law—landmark legislation that reformed the way California deals with violent sexual predators who target children. This comprehensive bill includes a true life without parole sentencing option for the most serious first-time offenders.

In addition to Chelsea’s Law, Fletcher authored more than 30 pieces of legislation that have been signed into law, including bills relating to veterans, job creation, water infrastructure, pension reform, modernization of state government, health care, and public safety. Fletcher was consistently rated one of the most effective legislators in California and has been honored as Legislator of the Year by groups as diverse as BIOCOM, Tech America, Veterans of Foreign War, Crime Victims United, the Black Chamber of Commerce, and many others.

In addition to his work in California, Fletcher has been a leader abroad. He is a champion for the democratic process and has spent time abroad working with philanthropic non-governmental organizations to build and improve democracies 8,000 miles away in Myanmar, East Timor, Cambodia, and Serbia. Fletcher has also participated in international delegation trips to foster relationships and strengthen cultural ties, notably working with Nobel Prize recipient Aung An Suu Kyi and other leaders. These trips also include visits to Mexico, China, and Korea focused on relationship building, personal visits with top leaders like Mexican President Calderon, and engagement with businesses abroad looking to expand their presence in America.

Before his election to the California State Legislature Fletcher served honorably in the United States military. From 2004-2007, he served in the United States Marine Corps as a Counterintelligence/Human Intelligence Specialist. In 2004, Fletcher spent eight months in the Sunni Triangle region of Iraq. Among the awards he received for this tour are the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat “V” for valor, the Combat Action Ribbon, and the Iraqi Campaign Medal. On his last deployment, he served throughout the Horn of Africa region traveling throughout Eastern Africa and the Near East. For this duty he was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal and Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. Fletcher is also a recipient of additional military awards including the Benton R. Montgomery Award for Excellence and the Walter Morris Honor Graduate Award. He is also a graduate of the US Army Airborne Course and Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center.

Fletcher is a tireless advocate for America’s veterans and is a member of both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. As an appointed member of the San Diego County Veterans Advisory Council, Fletcher provided a strong voice for the newly returned veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fletcher lends his time and talent to numerous philanthropic organizations and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Historical Society, the Community Advisory Council of Voices for Children, the San Diego Regional Advisory Council of the California League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, and as a member of the Statewide Leadership Council of the Public Policy Institute of California.

A frequent commentator, public speaker, and tireless advocate for the voiceless, Fletcher has appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball, CNN, The Today Show, Larry King Live, and Dr. Phil and has been quoted in national print publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and many others.

Fletcher is an Ironman Triathlete, marathon runner, and an avid outdoorsman who enjoys surfing, alpine mountaineering, and mountain biking. He is a graduate of California Baptist University, where he was a Presidential Merit Scholar and member of the CBU baseball team.

Fletcher lives in San Diego with his wife, Mindy, and their sons Zach and Caleb.

Wikipedia page:

Facebook page:

Voice of San Diego profile:

KPBS story about Fletcher’s early lead in the polls:

SD Free Press Jim Miler’s take down of Fletcher’s record:

Other notable facts: The UT-San Diego publisher hates Nathan Fletcher for switching parties. Big time tech money and Dem party bundler Christine Forester are backing Fletcher.

Tomorrow: The rest of the pack; six candidates you might not be familiar with

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie October 7, 2013 at 10:06 am

Bruce Coons had announced his withdrawal and is supporting David Alvarez.


san diegan October 13, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Kevin Faulconer for the win!


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