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San Diego Mayor Defends Record In Debate With Challengers

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Photo by Kris Arciaga

From left, San Diego mayoral candidates Ed Harris, Kevin Faulconer and Lori Saldaña.


Three candidates for San Diego mayor shared the stage at KUSI in their second televised debate Tuesday. Mayor Kevin Faulconer defended his record but declined to take a position on the Chargers' plan for a downtown stadium.


Carl Luna, political science professor, San Diego Mesa College


San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer defended his record against attacks from two challengers Tuesday night in the second televised mayoral debate of this campaign. The debate was co-sponsored by KUSI and The San Diego Union-Tribune.

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Asked what his vision was for a second term in office, Faulconer said: "Investing in infrastructure. Not raising taxes, but doing a good job with the money we have at city hall. Working collaboratively. Continuing the work we’re doing in every neighborhood — particularly neighborhoods that haven’t received their fair share of city services in the past."

Ed Harris, a San Diego lifeguard sergeant and former city councilman, criticized the mayor for not doing enough to fix the city's infrastructure deficit, which the city's independent budget analyst has said cannot be fixed without raising new revenue. Harris said the city should take advantage of low interest rates now and use bonds to fix the city's infrastructure.

"We’ve got buildings in Balboa Park where the roofs are leaking," Harris said. "If we fix the roof, we wouldn’t have to worry about the walls crumbling and the walls rotting. That makes the problem worse."

Former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña said to fix infrastructure, San Diego needs a strong tax base.

"One way to have a stronger tax base is to pay people more money," she said. "And yet when you veto the minimum wage, as happened a few years ago, we have less people shopping, lower retail sales taxes coming in, and we have fewer people able to fully participate in our economy."

The first question in the debate related to the city's troubled relationship with the San Diego Chargers. When pressed by a debate panelist on whether he would support the initiative promoted by the team to raise the hotel room tax to pay for a new stadium downtown, Faulconer again declined to take a position.

“I’m going to make sure we vet it thoroughly and get the answers that we need," he said. "We will not have all of the information, all of the facts, probably for at least another month, month and a half.”

The Chargers' plan has been blasted by Republicans and Democrats as a bad deal for taxpayers. Harris and Saldaña both oppose the Chargers' plan, but support a competing measure that would facilitate a downtown stadium paid for without public money.

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The morning before the debate, the Independent Voter Project released the results of an online poll that found Faulconer within the margin of error for winning the election outright on June 7. If he gets less than 50 percent of the vote, he will face the other top vote-getter in the November general election.

Faulconer is far ahead of Harris and Saldaña in terms of fundraising and campaign organization. Harris, a Democrat, and Saldaña, an independent, entered the race this year, after the Republican mayor had already raised more than $1 million.

The third and final televised debate is set for June 3 on NBC7, co-sponsored by the Voice of San Diego. The first televised debate was last month on Univision.

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Andrew Bowen
Metro Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover local government — a broad beat that includes housing, homelessness and infrastructure. I'm especially interested in the intersections of land use, transportation and climate change.

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