skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

Alvarez, Faulconer Go Negative In First San Diego Mayoral Debate

Evening Edition

Aired 1/16/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Carl Luna, Political Science Professor, Mesa College


The two councilmen facing off to become San Diego's next mayor went negative at the first mayoral debate of the run-off election.

The first debate in the runoff election to pick San Diego’s next mayor was fast and furious, if not necessarily edifying. The KPBS/10News-hosted affair was less a debate and more a recitation of negative talking points. Both candidates hijacked as many questions as possible to point out how the other guy was bought and paid for by special interests.

City Councilman Kevin Faulconer went negative first, reiterating that his colleague and opponent David Alvarez has received nearly $3 million from organized labor, “the same unions that nearly drove this city to bankruptcy,” he said. Faulconer’s other go-to comment seemed to cast himself as immune from outside influence. “I’m independent,” he repeated more than a handful of times.

Alvarez fired back, saying it was Faulconer who was in the pocket of the downtown business elite, “the developers, the big corporations -- those who have enough money to have lobbyists, who have high-paid consultants,” he said. “Not everyday citizens.” Alvarez declared that Faulconer would do whatever his business buddies wanted, keeping powerful interests at the helm of San Diego.

The accusations went back and forth during the half hour debate. Republican Faulconer described Democrat Alvarez’s work on the Barrio Logan community plan as “a failure of leadership,” but failed to suggest how he would craft a compromise. Alvarez quizzed Faulconer about giving bonuses to his staff while voting against pay raises for cops and firefighters.

But the crux of the issue seemed to come down who was in bed with a baddie. Faulconer blamed the unions for the pension crisis that nearly broke San Diego, while Alvarez decried that underfunded pensions were pushed through by a Republican controlled city hall shilling for big business.

At the start of the debate, the men arrived in starkly different style. Faulconer came in surrounded by a team of well-heeled staffers, while Alvarez entered the room with only two casually dressed aides, his backpack slung over his shoulder.

A prospective voter could read this one of two ways. They could see the experienced Faulconer, running a tight and well-managed campaign and Alvarez unprepared, perhaps even too young. Or they could see Faulconer as already surrounded by the ruling class and king-makers of San Diego, and Alvarez as the plucky outsider who will fight for the little guy.

The narrative voters take away from that scene may well determine for whom they cast their vote for on Feb. 11.

KPBS' Maureen Cavanaugh, Patty Lane and Peggy Pico contributed to the Midday and Evening Edition segments.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.


Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | January 15, 2014 at 4:55 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

I thought the tea party types were all about down to earth candidates who act like real people instead of out of touch politicians.

If Ted Cruz or Rand Paul came to an event alone with a backpack slung over their shoulder, they would be heralded as rogues, visionaries, men not beholden to Washington.

But Alvarez does it and he's "unprepared" ?

Give me an effin break.

We all know who the big business downtown hack pat my cronies on the bottom and wink while making a back room deal parasite is in this fight - FAULCONER!!

Was one of the elite suits Faulconer paraded in with PaPa Doug ?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'my2cnz'

my2cnz | January 15, 2014 at 5:41 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

I watched this debate at 1 pm today and if we're picking winners and losers, Alvarez won hands down. He speaks the truth and I think most San Diegan's will come to see that come election day.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | January 15, 2014 at 6:41 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

The only negative ads I've seen on TV so far are from Alvarez. He has put millions of big union dollars into throwing mud. Frankly, we don't need anymore mud in San Diego after the Filner disaster.

Alvarez is just a little Filner Jr. trying to put his inexperienced feet into those massive muddy footprints he left. Exactly what San Diego doesn't need.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | January 16, 2014 at 8:01 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

once again not a vote for someone, a vote for the least detestable of the lot.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'dialyn'

dialyn | January 16, 2014 at 11:37 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

I worked for the City during the pension debacle. It was not the union workers who caused the problems but the union leaders who were manipulating an extra special deal for themselves in cooperation with the poltiicians on the Council at the time. I'm really tired of workers being the whipping boys and girls for the Republican party. It would be nice if Faulconer came up with something original to say, but, of course he won't because he is the chosen one of the downtown developers. So discouraging. The best I can say about him is that at least he isn't DeMaio.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Frankie'

Frankie | January 16, 2014 at 1:01 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

KPBS needs to come up with an alternative political analyst to Carl Luna from Mesa College. Surely there are other political science profs to chat with Maureen Cavanaugh.

After today's mayoral "debate" on the radio, Luna had one valuable suggestion: debate moderators need to follow-up and insist when candidates dodge giving a direct answer.

Otherwise, Luna sounds enamored with ambitious interim mayor Todd Gloria; still misses vanquished Nathan Fletcher; and even yearns for the comic relief of Mike Aguirre. Plus, Luna says he doesn't reside in San Diego. Let's hear from some qualified opinionator who has skin in the game.

( | suggest removal )