September 20, 2013 (San Diego) Lori Saldaña endorsed San Diego Council Member David Alvarez for San Diego City Mayor. In some ways Alvarez is the dark horse in the campaign for mayor. The other three candidates are Council Member Kevin Faulconer, former Republican, then independent, now Democrat Nathan Fletcher, and former City Attorney Mike Aguirre.
Why is Alvarez the dark horse? Faulconer has the support, and endorsement, of former Mayor Jerry Sanders, now President of the San Diego City Chamber of Commerce. That gives him some recognition with the elites that would prefer a Republican in the Mayor’s office. He is also termed out, so no election means he is out of office next year. We should note that in theory the race is non-partisan, but he has been endorsed by the Republican Party as well, so it’s time we stop pretending.
Fletcher has the family connection. While he came in a distant third in the 2012 June Primary, there is that important name recognition. You might remember he ran as an independent. Voters should know that Fletcher is related to one of the most influential developers of the first half of last century, Colonel Ed Fletcher.
Ed Fletcher and his business associates were responsible for developing a great deal of real estate in San Diego County, including lands in the San Luis Rey Valley, Grossmont, Fletcher Hills, Mount Helix, Del Mar, Pine Hills, Cuyamaca Lake, Lake Hodges, and Solana Beach. He was instrumental in developing all state and national highways leading into San Diego County, as well as the road from Mountain Springs to Imperial Valley, the plank road from Holtsville to Yuma, the Yuma highway bridge, and the highway from Gila Bend to Casa Grande.
In addition to his real estate work, Ed Fletcher was instrumental in developing the majority of San Diego County’s water systems, including the Cuyamaca Water System on the San Diego River (supplying the La Mesa Irrigation District and City of San Diego), the Volcan Water System (including Lake Henshaw Dam), the San Dieguito Water System, and the Lake Hodges and San Dieguito Dams (supplying San Dieguito and Santa Fe Irrigation District plus part of the City of San Diego).
Family connections and history are in some ways prologue. Fletcher has also earned the endorsement of the lifeguard and Fire Department unions. This matters.
Aguirre was the people’s attorney, who went toe to toe with the Sunroad developers, when they developed their building in Kearny Mesa. In the end Sunroad had to still take down two flights as it was deemed a hazard to navigation. But it was Aguirre who alerted the FAA. So yes, you could say his name and reputation precedes him. There is no doubt that Aguirre will prove a fighter for the people’s business. While he promises to be a consensus builder he has that reputation.
He also promises to run a different kind of campaign, where endorsements are not that important. This, if he succeeds, will be very new in modern US politics.
So we are back to Alvarez. He is well known in the district he represents. His voting record in the Council is somewhat thin. His ace in the hand is the endorsement of the powerful Central Labor Council. This Council can mobilize labor and make or break politicians during regular cycles, they were essential to elect Bob Filner, but they are also essential in Special Elections. They elected Council Member Myrtle Cole. Of course, he also has the endorsement of Lori Saldaña. What we have is truly an intriguing dark horse candidate that is already developing some important political chops.
While Fletcher got the endorsement of Bishop McKiney, and other Bishops, Alvarez represents that community. He grew up in that community. His father was a Brasero, and his mother worked for low wages all her life. He is a symbol of success in the American dream. He is the son of immigrants still living with those immigrants.
Aguirre is truly a scrappy fighter, and he will do what needs doing. He might be brash, but will get the job done.
This is starting to look like a fascinating race. Two candidates represent the same power structure that has mostly controlled San Diego for over fifty years. Two others are quite possibly outsiders. What we are also quite possibly seeing is the rise of a true progressive uprising. If anybody was expecting another special election with a competition between the same old interests, it starting to look like it will be more than just that. We will continue to watch with interest.
(Of note, these are the credible candidates. We have over forty who have filed papers of intent. Friday is the deadline to meet requirements. The ballot will likely contain over ten names, fifteen would not be unheard off. The election is Nov 19, and I can almost guarantee a run off. If we get anybody getting fifty percent I will be shocked)