Decision 2013: Mayoral candidates square off in spirited round table debate

KEARNY MESA – Wednesday night the four major candidates joined moderator Ross Becker for a round table discussion in the KUSI studios. From how to pay for road repairs, to keeping the city out of debt, the four candidates spoke freely – explaining, persuading, and sometimes attacking.

Now in the home stretch, the four major candidates had their talking points well-rehearsed – Alvarez for changing the status quo at City Hall, Fletcher emphasizing his ability to manage, Faulconer saying he will get the city back on track after the Bob Filner debacle, and Aguirre arguing for fiscal responsibility.

But in spite of being seated, the candidates were on their toes and ready to spar.

In one of the most heated exchanges, Nathan Fletcher addressed Kevin Faulconer directly with whether he made a backroom deal.

“It was reported that you said you would not run unless they (the Republican party) anointed you and picked you” said Fletcher, “did you make that commitment, yes or no?”

Faulconer responded “Nathan, you have to be independent…”

Fletcher: “So demonstrate that and answer the question!”

“Are you going to allow me to finish?”

“Go ahead.”

“Thank you. As mayor, I'm going to have that independence. And that's something I don't think you know too much about, as you've had all this support from all these public employee groups who are coming to you now, and they are going to want things for you to do. That's the difference between you and me my friend.”

“You aren't answering the question Kevin, it's a simple question! Did you make that commitment, yes or no?”

Aguirre weighed in, saying he is in no danger of being swayed by special interests. “By not taking their money, I don't have to succumb to them. For the way they get people to succumb to them is they give them the money.”

But he said Nathan “can't criticize Kevin”, because all the candidates are guilty of doing backroom deals.

Referring to his fellow candidates as “these young men”, Aguirre said “you did a backroom deal, you did a backroom deal, and that's OK, because that's what you had to do.”

When asked by Becker why he had no backroom deals, Aguirre said “Nobody would go to the backroom with me! I'm there by myself!”

Both Fletcher and Alvarez have strong support from the city's public employee unions. And Alvarez, who stayed out of the fray for most of the debate, says that his record demonstrates he is also on their side.

“We've done united, bipartisan solutions – for example, retirement health care. What you do is you work with the bargaining units, you don't try to impose things. You actually go and work with them and try to work out a deal that isn't going to keep you in the court system for a long long time and doesn't actually get you anything accomplished, that's what we've done.”

But the candidates clashed again over death and disability benefits for newly-hired firefighters. Fletcher said changes in the pension system left a gap in benefits.

“What is the benefit today?” he said to Faulconer. “What is the benefit, tell us what it is.”

After Fletcher demanded details when Faulconer claimed the benefits would be covered “100%” Faulconer levied accusations against Fletcher. “Continuing your scare tactics today Nathan, is that what you're doing? Is that what you're doing? No Nathan, you don't understand, because you've been so out of touch. That's your problem.”

“You can't answer my question. Kevin it's a simple question,” responded Fletcher, speaking past the moderator, “just tell the viewers, tell the viewers, tell them what the benefit is!”

Faulconer: “It's a non-issue!”

Six days and counting… the special election for San Diego mayor is fast approaching.


Sasha Foo

Categories: KUSI