Originally published February 12, 2014 at 6 a.m., updated February 12, 2014 at 7:07 a.m.
New San Diego Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer, who defeated fellow Councilman David Alvarez by a wide margin on Tuesday, vows to be an independent leader for all San Diegans.
New San Diego Mayor-Elect Kevin Faulconer, who defeated David Alvarez, by a wide margin on Tuesday vows to be an independent leader for all San Diegans.
San Diego Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, defeated fellow Councilman David Alvarez by a wide margin on Tuesday. He vows to be an independent leader for all San Diegans.
Democrat Alvarez, 33, conceded the race via Twitter shortly before midnight. Faulconer said the two men had an amiable conversation and that he looks forward to working with his former opponent, who returns now to City Council.
San Diego Mesa College political science professor Carl Luna said Alvarez's inexperience contributed to his loss.
"I think...what you’ve got is something of a perfect storm for Democrats: the triple 'w,' " he said. "They had a weak candidate, a weak message and a weak turnout."
Luna said having two top Democratic contenders — Alvarez and ex-Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher — in the primary election gave Faulconer a boost heading into the runoff.
"It definitely left the Republicans consolidated behind Kevin Faulconer, and he was able to parlay that into success by getting a good turnout particularly in the mail-in ballots: about 70 percent of his vote came in by mail," Luna said.
Faulconer, 47, officially will become mayor on March 3. The final vote tally: Faulconer 55 percent; Alvarez 45 percent.
Beaming at the podium before a roomful of boisterous supporters, the Republican acknowledged the sexual harassment scandal that drove Bob Filner from office:
"We know that this city has gone through a lot in the past year, but we knew that as San Diegans we were better than that," Faulconer said at the US Grant Hotel downtown.
Democrat Alvarez thanked his supporters, in English and Spanish, and while he stopped short of actually conceding at the podium, his sentiment was as clear as the results coming in all evening from the Registrar of Voters.
Faulconer will be dealing with a City Council controlled by Democrats, and currently headed by interim Mayor Todd Gloria. A Democrat, Gloria will resume his significant role as council president, setting the legislative body's agenda.
In fact, if a Democrat is appointed to replace him on the council — as is likely — Mayor Faulconer will face a veto-proof 6-3 Democrat majority, at least until the election this November. That's because it's likely Gloria and his fellow Democrats will name a fellow party member as Faulconer's temporary replacement, although that person cannot run for the seat in the fall.
But for now, it was enough for Faulconer, the veteran politician, to savor victory and embrace his supporters.
"So our message tonight to every single San Diego neighborhood: We will invest where we need the help, we'll get our city back on track on the services that San Diegans expect and that they deserve," Faulconer said after sincerely thanking his campaign workers.
Alvarez stepped to the podium in a Barrio Logan market shortly after 10 p.m. to thank his supporters. It wasn't a concession speech, but it resembled one.
"You believe as I do that San Diego is an inclusive city, a city that stands for working families," he told cheering supporters. "We are on the verge of accomplishing great things.
"While we do not know the final outcome tonight, this much is clear: We have changed San Diego. And we are just getting started."
Alvarez added that the important thing is for San Diegans to, "move forward together as a city, not as Democrats and Republicans; old versus young, not (as those) north of I-8 versus (those) south of I-8, nor as workers versus business interests .... But as San Diegans."
Alvarez ended his speech with gratitude expressed in Spanish. He threw in the towel officially some 90 minutes later with a tweet to his many followers.
Tuesday's runoff election was scheduled on relatively short notice after November’s special primary vote narrowed the field to the top two finishers.
The race to replace Filner, who resigned over sexual harassment claims in August, generated national attention in its final weeks with a story in The New York Times and a late-game endorsement of Alvarez by President Barack Obama.
In a full-circle development, it was announced Monday that Irene McCormack-Jackson — the top Filner aide whose revelations of sexual harassment energized the campaign to oust him — settled her lawsuit against the former mayor and the city. McCormack-Jackson will get $250,000, according to her attorney and the San Diego City Attorney’s Office.
Meanwhile, the two men vying to replace Filner replaced their relatively genial relationship during the primary with sharp-elbowed confrontation in the past few weeks.
The election turned ugly as both campaigns and the independent committees supporting Faulconer and Alvarez went on the offensive, sending out negative mailers and running attack ads on TV.
Each candidate has described the other as a tool of the interests behind him. Faulconer has said unions are trying to buy the election by backing Alvarez, while Alvarez has painted Faulconer as anointed by the city's business insiders.
Both candidates and the independent committees supporting them have raised millions during the special election, but Alvarez has raised slightly more. Some of his biggest backers were the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the United Domestic Workers of America.