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San Diego Mayor Defends Record In Debate With Challengers

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

San Diego Mayor Defends Record In Debate With Challengers
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.
San Diego Mayor Defends Record In Debate With Challengers
GUEST: Carl Luna, political science professor, San Diego Mesa College

Our top story on midday edition infrastructure police recruitment and a new Chargers Stadium were among the top issues discussed at last night San Diego mayoral debate. Challengers Ed Harris and Lori Saldana took aim at incumbent Kevin Faulconer for his opposition to a minimum wage hike and lack of funding for the city's climate action plan. Well-funded spent much of the debate listening what he believes are his accomplishments and promising more of the same in the next four years. Joining me for analysis of the KUSI Union Tribune sponsored debate is political science professor Carl Luna. Last time you are on to analyze the U.S. Senate debate you noted a lack of passion in the candidates. Did you see any passion my side? My wife observed that watching the debate was kind of like watching people who were a school board election. They talked issues they were competent about what they were talking about the each other talking points but somewhere there's got to be something between boring stability in engage disability. You can be civil with each other but still show there are major things you want to fight for. Lori Saldana had the highest level of real engagement, a passionate commitment to try and help disadvantaged people in San Diego. Kevin Faulconer still playing it safe you want to say this is what I've done, I will give you more of the same in Ed Harris the start of strong but then he would fade over time. With a big moment for you and last I debate by Not particularly. The one biggest moment for Kevin Faulconer I've always been wondering on how is going to come down on the Trump affect coming into town. He did try to distance himself from his own party's nominee and as the largest -- the mayor of the largest Republican dominated city in the country you would've thought that he would of been more committed to his nominee but he's playing local politics which is smart against the national wave. Donald Trump comes to town on Friday and he's bringing a mouse terminus wake will have to see if that of fax the mayor's race or not. One of the high profile issues in this election is if or how to build a new Chargers Stadium both Harris and so done you have coming out against the Chargers plan to raise hotel room taxes to pay for a downtown Stadium. Mayor Faulkner has not taken a position is Faulconer being question the is you and last night today. I'm going to make sure we that it thoroughly and get the answers that we need. So to be clear no position before June 7. We would not have all of the information already fax probably for at least another month, month and a half. That Amir folder has declined to take a position until as you heard after the election what you make of that will. It's wonderfully disingenuous because this is been an issue on the table for twentysomething plus years the mayor could Pallotta position on this if after the election he comes out strongly in favor of it I think he would've felt that way before but he's trying to play both sides which is smart in an election like this. I was surprised that neither visible months call them on that at that point saying in on these plans you should have some view than that. The taken a stance that you run the risk of charger fans turning against you but you also run the risk for Kevin Faulconer of taxpayer advocates turning against you if you being fast and loose with the public purse. After the election I that he will supported. One of these that on his attacks against Faulconer has been a actually has site on higher office but last night he put out a statement saying he plans to fill a full four-year term if he's reelected. You think this statement is going to put that rumor to rest? The statement probably won't hurt -- but the rumor to rest. Of these planning to run for statewide office with the next four years he's going to lose because California is pretty much there is a Democrat statewide. The media going to be waiting in four years to see who is leaving state Senate was leaving Congress and maybe try to move into one of those. Other than that that is the problem with being a Republican mayor in San Diego unless you can get a role in Hamilton on Broadway is not about -- a lot of other places to go. Where do you think Harris or so Donya may escort some poem -- points last night? I think they tried to show Mayor Faulkner is the same Republican, not supporting minimum wage, not supporting average people. I don't know if he's going to move the needle because of the debate only so many people will see. In a partisan age Republicans will vote for Kevin Faulconer. A number of independents will because he's not rocking the boat per se. I did see reason independent voter network poll that showed that it's a closer race than you would think in that Kevin Faulconer is below 50% of the poll. That means he that 40% it all comes down to turn out in a Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton fire of Democrats that could surprisingly enough going to a runoff. Still not completely likely that more likely than which was that a while going to present to be asking why didn't we put more money into this race earlier on. I'm interested in what you have to say about the possible Trump affect. What do you think, given that Kevin Faulconer is now definitely distancing himself from the man who probably will be the Republican presidential nominee. What effect you think that might have? You might end up with conservative Republican voters with a pro-charger voters with or maybe some overlap within that. Deciding not to cast a ballot for him they won't vote for the other two but they won't fall for -- is that diminishes the Republican vote that can cause a problem. At the Trump affect encourages Democrats to turn out that can cost of a problem. Kevin Faulconer was trying to play it safe into the election and if nothing else had rock the boat it would've been fine but national political waters that are roiling and it's going to rock his local boat. I've been speaking with Carl Luna political science at [ Indiscernible ] college. Thank you.

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.

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.

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.