By Nadin Abbott; Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report
February 12, 2014 (San Diego) Republican Councilmember Kevin Faulconer was elected as the next San Diego City Mayor in the special election by a substantial margin. The Registrar of Voters final tally has Kevin Faulconer with 12,7296 votes, translating to 54.53% of the vote, and David Alvarez with 11,4478 votes, translating to 45.47%.
Faulconer’s election opens a vacancy on the Council—and an opportunity for Democrats to pick up a consolation prize. The Democratic-controlled Council will name Faulconer’s replacement, which is expected to give Democrats enough votes to override a mayoral veto. Still with San Diego’s strong mayor form of government, Faulconer will have many options for implementing his policies without Council approval.
It is different from, for example El Cajon, where a city manager does a lot of the work a Strong Mayor does; in El Cajon the mayor presides over the Council. San Diego does not have a city manager. In San Diego, the President Pro-Tem, a member of the City Council, leads City Council meetings.
For some history, this was proposed and pushed for under the administration of Mayor Dick Murphy. The citizens of San Diego passed it by citywide vote in 2004. The first Mayor to serve under the new system was Jerry Sanders.
A good parallel is that of the federal split of powers. Think of the City Council as the Congress, and the Mayor as the President. There are things that the executive can do without Congressional input. There are things that need Congressional input, and in fact, the Congress writes the laws, just as the Council writes the laws. The President can veto them, and the Congress can override it if there are enough votes.
Faulconer's election ends a turbulent era in San Diego politics. Faulconer will replace Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, who filled the vacancy left by Bob Filner’s resignation amid sexual harassment claims. Filner is currently on probation after pleading guilty and the city just settled a suit filed by an employee for a quarter of a million dollars.
It was far from the close election that political pundits had expected. Faulconer took the early lead and held it, with the count completed shortly after midnight. Alvarez conceded to his opponent and announced on Twitter, “I want to congratulate Kevin Faulconer. It’s clear he will be the next Mayor of San Diego. I look forward to working with him.”
Faulconer tweeted in return, “Thank you for a respectful campaign. As Mayor, I look forward to working with you to move our city forward.”