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Three’s Company In San Diego Mayoral Race

May 9, 2016 1:17 p.m.

Three’s Company In San Diego Mayoral Race


Andrew Bowen, KPBS Metro Reporter

Related Story: Three’s Company In San Diego Mayoral Race


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. We are less than a month away from elections on June 7. For a long time Mayor Kevin Faulconer look to be cruising to reelection. Two opponents entered the race forcing the mayor to defend his record in a competitive campaign. Andrew Baldwin takes a look at the race.
I Kevin Faulconer do solemnly swear.
March 3, 2014, Kevin Faulconer is sworn in. The city had been through a lot of turmoil. A sexual harassment -- scandal. San Diego's were looking for stability. Faulkner seem to be the answer. Now, two years later he says the city is better off.
I tried to set the tone to work together with people, collaborate. That's probably one of my biggest strengths, is working with people. It's not about Republican, Democrat, or independent. It's what's right thing for San Diego?
If not for his popularity has led to speculation he is eyeing higher office. His opponents have exploited that, saying he is not committed to staying.
I like the fact that people in other parts of the state are saying San Diego you are on the verge of bankruptcy and you turned it around. We do have a success story.
Can you promise voters that you will stay in office for four years?
I'm running or mayor of this great city.
He counts his recent budget is evidence that he is fixing problems. There is more money for street repair, the budget has weaknesses identified by the city's independent budget analyst. Police officers are leaving the city for better pay and benefits elsewhere. Lori Saldana is running against the mayor. She served in the state assembly for six years. She now teaches information technology in the San Diego community college District.
I have applicants from the police department come into my classroom. Their concerns are lack of good training. I worry that they leave their shift and then they are asked to fill in for the dispatcher. They are working more hours, that's very stressful. When you work long hours, you are more likely to make a mistake.
She said she got fed up with party politics, now she's an independent and a progressive. She supports the local minimum wage increase that Mayor Faulconer vetoed.
It's becoming more expensive, pushing more people out of San Diego. This current administration is really not doing much to help that situation.
If she were Faulconer 's only appointment -- opponent, Ed Harris entered the race. He sat on the city Council for nine months, finishing out Faulconer 's. He heads the lifeguard union. I him at the location where he first started to work.
We're losing half the lifeguards in the next five years according to the auditor's report, there is no plan to fix it. We have asked for a nutrition plan for the last four years. This mayor does not act until there is a crisis or until there is a public benefit. That's not being a mayor, that's not leadership, what you need to do in leadership is be proactive. We should be taking. -- Care of problems before they are out of control.
They are clear underdogs, Mayor Faulconer has a huge advantage. If he wins more than 50% of the vote, he wins reelection. If Harrison saw then you can steal away enough votes and push this campaign through to a November runoff.
Andrew joins me now.
Thanks Maureen.
Can you give us background on them and their experience.
Lori Saldana says -- is a state representative since 2004. She launched an unsuccessful campaign to unseat peters. She co-authored a bill to be on open carry of unloaded handguns. That died while she was in office, it was reintroduced a year later, it was ultimately signed. She also co-authored this climate action excuse me the bill which mandates reduction in greenhouse gases. Ed Harris brands himself is not a politician, he has served as a lifeguard for his entire career. He did have a brief time on the city Council and made a mark while he was there. He opposed a lease expansion of Belmont Park saying it was a bad idea for taxpayers. He sort of latched onto this housing density issue in Bay Park, next door to mission beach. He was joining some residence in opposing height limits that would increase height limits going around a new trolley stop. He has evolved on the issue of housing density and now supports transit oriented development.
After interviewing these candidates what would you say are the key issues that they differ on?
Minimum wage is the clearest cut issue that they differ on. Harrison saw then you supported, the mayor vetoed it. Harris was the sixth about to override that veto and as we know he ultimately got forced on by signatures. That is a clear difference they also support the citizens plan which would increase the transit Oxus be -- occupancy tax. The mayor has not yet taken a position on that. They also oppose the Chargers plan for a new stadium. They have criticized the mayor for his previous plan which would have given hundreds of millions of dollars to help will that. Faulconer hasn't taken initiative on the Chargers either.
Has any polling been done?
No. Not any public polling. It's safe to assume that Faulconer is using the money that he is fund raise to poll internally. Those are just the property campaigns.
You talk about a huge disparity in funds raised by Faulconer . How big a difference?
Faulconer raised a little over $1 million in the calendar year of 2015. The latest disclosure, which went through April 23 of this year, he raised $158,000. Compare that to Ed Harris, who raced 43,000 and Lori Saldana and Yahoo grace 28,000. They were not in this campaign last year. To put those numbers in perspective, it's really a tiny fraction of what Faulconer has raised.
You talk of the huge disparity in funds and you explained it. Since Kevin Faulconer has no real challenge, had no real challenge until earlier this year. Why does he have such a big warchest? Why did he raise so much money? Is he looking to run for governor?
The Faulconer campaign decided early on that they were not going to take this reelection for granted. There was a lot of money spent in the campaign in 2013 and the runoff in 2014. They decided, we can't just sit around and not fund raise while we are waiting for a challenger to come in. Every politician raises money. I don't think it's fair to speculate, saying he is going to run for governor and that's why he's raising all this money.
To any candidates have any new ideas about increasing revenues. That's been identified as a potential weakness in the city's fiscal future.
The citizens plan, which Harris and Saul tenure -- sol Danielle support. The candidates were afraid of saying they were supporting new taxes. Harris pointed out that it made sense for the city to borrow money now because the interest rates are low. I tried to press him on the issue, he said the city has to get its finances in order and make sure the candidates are getting the best deal possible. Only after that point can you have a conversation with taxpayers and say if you want longer library hours, more parks, this is what is going to cost.
There are two more forums before the election one on May 24, one on June 3. I've been speaking with Andrew Bowen.
Thanks Maureen.