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Candidate Confidential: A Q&A With The Mayoral Front-Runners

Who would like to be a chef if he weren't in politics? Which candidate drinks gluten-free beer? We asked the top four mayoral candidates some simple and personal questions and got some revealing answers.

Mike Aguirre

Photo by Angela Carone

Former city attorney turned mayoral candidate Mike Aguirre.

What's your favorite place in San Diego? Your first job? We asked the top four mayoral candidates some simple and personal questions and got some revealing answers.

First Job?

“My first really good job was as a farm worker in Yuma during the summer of 1966.”

Aguirre said he picked melons, and was paid a $1.25 per hour. The 25 cents covered his room and board, and he would work from 4:30 in the morning to 8 p.m. at night. Aguirre said he got the job because he “wanted a car more than anything.” But he also adds that seeing how the bosses treated him and the other workers turned him into a union man.

Aguirre said it lead to his work later as Ceasar Chavez’s lawyer, “I connected that first job with Cesar Chavez. I guess that is my first job, but somehow that first job lasted a long time.”

Something voters might not know about you?

“People don’t know, in my family, the role I play. Which is really the source of love and support and understanding, and guidance and care and softness and discipline that I have for my children.”

“I think that is probably what most people don’t know, is me as a father, and that’s really the central part of my life.”

Favorite part of San Diego?

“For me politically, there’s a spot in Balboa Park called the FDR grove. People don’t really know where it is, but I like to go over there sometimes and just think about earlier times.”

Aguirre said he likes the spot in the park so much because Franklin Delanor Roosevelt is a personal political hero of his. “I am a really big FDR person. I really appreciated what FDR did when the country was down. He moved us through the depression, through World War II.”

Aguirre said this little spot commemorating FDR in San Diego helps him to focus on a time when politicians really made a difference, “it kind of helps me remember earlier times in our history, when we were a different country, a less materialistic country, more committed to helping people.”

San Diego is a big beer town. Do you have a favorite beer?

“Well, you know, I am gluten-free,” Aguirre said, adding “there’s a beer called Mission which isn’t that good of a beer, but it is gluten-free.”

Top three policy priorities?

  1. Rebuilding neighborhoods.
  2. Lowering the cost of living.
  3. Make sure everyone is participating.

David Alvarez

Photo by Angela Carone

Councilman David Alvarez is running for mayor.

First job?

“HIV Aids teen pregnancy prevention counselor.” Alvarez said he started at the age of 15.

“We helped start the first teen clinic in San Diego. That was my first paid job.”

Alvarez said he didn’t feel that he was too young to be a councilor to his peers, “it was out there so much, and obviously the issue of sexual education is taboo in a lot of cultures, but it was really easy because I was talking to younger people or people around my age. It was a great experience, getting out there and doing outreach and talking to people. I think that is what led to my interest in public service. It was social service but I think at the end of the day social service is very similar to public service.”

Something voters might not know about you?

“I like to cook. My mom was a good cook," Alvarez said.

"One thing I thought I would do after politics was to go to cooking school, to learn how to be more of a chef. I actually like following recipes and sometimes they don’t turn out too well. I really like Asian food. Obviously traditional Mexican food is just a household staple. But Asian food, that’s one of my favorites,” he said.

Favorite part of San Diego?

“Our bays are really special to me because I used to go there when I was growing up. We didn’t go to the beach very much, I didn’t know how to swim, we didn’t have any swimming programs in the community," he said.

"But we went to the bays, Mission Bay particularly. We had a lot of picnics there. I have a lot of memories — you know, the Fourth of July spent in traffic.”

Alvarez said as an adult he likes to take advantage of the San Diego’s bi-national status. He said he and his wife often drive down to Tijuana to have a date night.

San Diego is a big beer town. Do you have a favorite beer?

“I don’t really drink that much, but I will take whatever is given to me.” He said he is not-at-all picky.

Top three policy priorities?

  1. Returning investment to neighborhoods.
  2. Working on building public/private partnerships.
  3. Climate action plan. Renewable energy, transit first city, greening the infrastructure.

Kevin Faulconer

Photo by Angela Carone

Kevin Faulconer

First job?

A Chem-Dry carpet cleaner.

Something voters might not know about you?

“Well they don’t know that I sing in the car, and I embarrass my daughter all the time. She hates it when I do that. And when she hates it, then I sing louder.”

But that is one of the few times he is antagonistic, Faulconer said. He thinks he is known as “being a pretty level-headed guy. Someone who is able to work with my colleagues on the city council.”

Favorite part of San Diego?

“You know I’ve always loved being close to the water, and it is part of my council district. Katherine and I just took the kids down to Ocean Beach. It was a beautiful Sunday morning, we had a few hours between events. It’s great just to hang out, it reminds you what a special place we live in—not that we need reminding.”

Faulconer said his love for San Diego started early, “as a kid when I was visiting relatives here we spent a lot of time on Mission Bay, we have one of the most natural beautiful places in all of the United States. So anytime I can get close to the water it’s important. “

San Diego is a big beer town. Do you have a favorite beer?

“You know I had a great Karl Strauss Red Trolley this weekend and it’s always been one of my favorites.”

Top three policy priorities?

  1. Neighborhood services and infrastructure.
  2. Police recruitment and retention.
  3. Fiscal responsibility and returning managed competition to the city.

Nathan Fletcher

Photo by Angela Carone

San Diego mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher.

First job?

“My mom was working as a secretary for a lawyer. And I remember the son of one of the partners was doing the yard, but he did a terrible job," Fletcher said. "So I walked up to the partner and told him that I thought the yard was being done poorly and I could do it better, and I would do it for less than what he was paying his son. So he fired his son and gave me the job.”

But that wasn’t the end of it, Fletcher said. “I worked hard, and then I negotiated a deal where I could take the equipment they had there, the mowers, and edgers and weed-eaters, and for a reduced rate, I could take those to do other yards, and I built a little Fletcher yard service.”

Something voters might not know about you?

“So here is a job on my resume that never gets highlighted. I was a bouncer in a bar, in a nightclub. And I made a lot of money, it was a rough job, it was a rough place. In Riverside, a place called the Rocks Club.”

Fletcher said despite the rough edges of the job he “learned a lot of leadership."

"I was a supervisor, he said. "You know what I really learned there was not how to scrap and fight, but how to avoid it.”

But he said he looked a bit different than he does now, “I had a big old monster goatee — I was mean.” He said he looked the part.

Favorite part of San Diego?

“There is a park by our house, we call it dinosaur park, cause there are some rocks there that my boys think kind of look like dinosaurs. It’s just somewhere we go. We go we play t-ball, we play chase, we wrestle. It’s walking distance from our house. On a weekend there’s nothing better, you know my boys are 5 and 2 — there’s just nothing better,” he said.

San Diego is a big beer town. Do you have a favorite beer?

“I’m not much of a drinker. If I do drink I will drink a Buckler. Someone was making fun of me, they said non-alcoholic beer is like non-adhesive glue, it’s like what’s the point?”

Fletcher added that he supports the craft brewing industry growing in San Diego.

Top three policy priorities?

Fletcher said for him, there are really only two.

  1. Investing in neighborhoods, streets, and public safety.
  2. Launching his jobs plan.

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