A Conversation With San Diego Mayoral Candidate Kevin Faulconer
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October 10, 2013 1:32 p.m.
San Diego City Councilman Kevin Faulconer is a candidate for mayor. He has represented San Diego's Council District 2 since 2006.
FAULCONER: It is. And it gets to the heart of having dollars to reinvestment back into the neighborhoods, safe neighborhoods have to be a priority. Three main points, the hypocrisy and red tape and length of time it takes to hire a qualified candidate. Our city is woefully behind the curve on that. We have to pay competitive compensation. We invest so much to have these bright men and women to come to our department. Of the worst thing we can have is once we train them have them leave for the sheriff's department or another location. And lastly, we have to make sure we have the proper equipment provided to them and proper resources. Just last week at the rules committee, we heard a report that our communications effort through our sprint contract wasn't working for some of our officer, particularly in the northern and southern parts of our city. Well, that's a big problem! If recovers can't press their emergency button, if it's not connecting to the modem, I said we're not going to move forward on that until we have those fixed. So I'm a huge proponent of rebuilding our police department.
CAVANAUGH: Some of the pension cuts that you voted for on the City Council is part of the reason for this police attrition, some people are saying.
FAULCONER: What I say to folks is the difficult decisions we made allowed our city to stay solvent. Allowed us to have these abilities to reinvestment. We were a city that was teetering on bankruptcy when I joined the council. And we said clearly we're going to make tough decisions. The councils and mayors that proceeded us didn't do that. And when they granted pension benefits that were unsustainable, we knew we had to reign those in. And we did. And we did those sitting down with folks, with employee groups, and we negotiated on retiree healthcare. And I stand by those decisions. I don't change my mind, and I don't get wishy washy. It was the right decision to get our city back on track. And I'm always going to be upfront and tell you how I'm feeling. And in this case, these decisions that we made have put us in a so much better position now to invest back in our neighborhoods.
CAVANAUGH: Let me talk to you about Proposition B, which was very big last year, and of course of passed by an overwhelming majority. You helped craft that proposition which ended designated pensions for most new city workers. But it has been subsequently found to violet state labor law. It will cost the city $13 million to implement, and the major savings comes from a 5-year pensionable pay freeze that was negotiated by former mayor Filner. So my question to you is it working out the way you intended?
FAULCONER: I think it is working, unquestionably. And when you talk about the pay freeze, that was something I was keenly involved in. And we passed that on this City Council in a bipartisan fashion unanimously. That was critical important. So we have the dollars and the savings that we got from pension reform. And I absolutely supported Prop B when it was on the ballot. As did voters overwhelmingly, and moving the city into the 401K style of retirement. That's fair and affordable for both our employees and taxpayers. What we couldn't have, we were on a trajectory that it was going to eat up more and more and more of our budget and not leave us the dollars that we need to put in our parks and libraries, to hire more police officers. So I felt strongly about the need for our city to do that. The voters supported it overwhelmingly. I was proud to work with my council colleagues this year to get that 5-year agreement passed. It was a landmark agreement. And we got all of our employee groups to agree with it as well.
CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you what you knowledge your biggest challenge is in this campaign.
FAULCONER: We were talking about it earlier, I've been on the council for a bit, but you still have to let folks know citywide who you are and what you're done. I've never run for citywide office before. This is a short campaign, it's a sprint election. It's not a year-long effort like the mayor's races normally are. So I'm having to go out to neighborhoods that haven't -- they kind of know me a little bit. They know I'm fiscally strong for the city. But it's a strategy to introduce yourself in a very short amount of time. So I'm crisscrossing the city every day talking about my record. And I'm running on my record. Because it's one that has allowed our city to get back on track. And I'm running on the way that I work with my colleagues because I've been successful, and we've made some of these changes, because you have to be able to be -- work with your colleagues on any side of the aisles, Democrat or Republican. I work extremely well with our council president Todd Gloria. Even my colleague David Alvarez, we're running against each other. We may not gray on everything, but we treat each other with respect and dignity and try to put San Diego issues forward.
CAVANAUGH: One last question to you. Former mayor Filner made homeless issues a priority for the city. And he supported year-round funding for the downtown homeless tent. Couldn't find that funding after he left. And that is a problem. What do you think about that?
FAULCONER: I've been a champion for homeless issues and shining a light and dedicating dollars. And I strongly supported, and at my urging, we funded very expensive, but politically it was tough, our connections housing center downtown. And I felt so strongly about that, even though some of the business interests around it said we don't want another homeless center in downtown San Diego. And I said it's not about emergency beds. It's about providing all of the services that we need to help somebody make the transition out of homelessness. And to do that, we have transitional housing in the same facility. We have counseling, we have medical services, a variety all under one roof. And we transformed the old world trade center in the heart of downtown San Diego into a phenomenal service center that is helping people get back on their feet and transition out of becoming homeless. I feel strongly about that. And it's working. And one of the reasons any I took the risk, I said we will prove that this type of model works. And then we can replicate it in other neighborhoods across the city. And we're proving that it does work.
CAVANAUGH: Finally, why should San Diegans vote for you for mayor?
FAULCONER: I have a proven track record, the ability to get things done, I'm very optimistic about our city's future, and we're going to get us back on track.
CAVANAUGH: Thank you very much.
FAULCONER: Thank you. Great to see you.