What’s next for Alvarez?
LOGAN HEIGHTS (Tuesday) – “I'm so sorry, my voice is gone, I've worked so hard like all of you.”
Hoarse words met with cheering praise – mayoral candidate David Alvarez speaking to his supporters during Tuesday's election. His Democratic rival Nathan Fletcher led the tight race for second place in early polling, but as Alvarez himself went on to accurately predict, to even louder cheers, “we're only got a couple hundred votes to go, and will be in the runoff to be the next mayor of our city!”
After rest and tea, the first-term City Councilman sat down with David Davis and Brandi Williams Thursday on Good Morning San Diego to discuss his victory. “I've had so many homemade recipes to get this (voice) back. Salt water, all sorts of things.”
Alvarez says he's used the R&R to spend quality time with his daughter Izel, “playing with horses and dinosaurs and camels.” His wife Xochitl, who is expecting a son, sent him some congratulatory flowers. And the family man says his own 80-year-old father, who now lives with him, is incredibly proud. “He comes from a very humble background, he doesn't have an education. He was a janitor, blue-collar all his entire life – he picked fruits and vegetables, he's an agricultural worker – so, to see the progress our family has made obviously makes him proud, and it makes me proud to be his son.”
Alvarez heads into a tough race against Kevin Faulconer, the lone Republican candidate who led Tuesday's election race with over 43% of the vote. Faulconer took precincts from virtually every community north of Highway 8. Alvarez took virtually all precincts south of the 8.
He says his approach worked and he will continue with it. “It was grassroots-oriented – I went to over 30 debates, I was the only candidate who went to every community event and forum they invited us to throughout the entire city, and that's what made the difference at the end of the day. And we're going to continue to do that.”
He says voters now have a clear choice. “I think people will understand where I come from and what my values are, how I support things that every San Diego family really wants, which is a good environment, good schools that work with government, making sure that we have a long-term water supply, making sure that we balance our budget, that we produce the services people want in our neighborhood.” (Alvarez chaired the Environmental Committee on the council, which passed a water reuse measure.)
As a young-looking 33-year-old in his first term on the San Diego City Council, opponents have attacked Alvarez's inexperience. But having already faced those accusations in his run for council, he says he's non-plussed. “I've been in government for 10 years,” he says. “Before (the city council) I worked in the non-profit sector, I worked in education. I think experience doesn't come with age, it comes with what you've lived and what you've done and what you've accomplished.”
He says his leadership on the council shows he is fit to lead a city. “I'm very proud of my record on the council, and prior to that.”
When asked whether there would be any hard feelings in regards to some of the support from labor leader he lost to Fletcher, Alvarez says he already has received a congratulatory phone call for Fletcher, and he's ready for the transition. “We have a big coalition,” he says “and we want to bring them along as well, and I think we'll be able to do that.”
He says if elected, his focus would first be on balancing the budget. “It will be the time when our budget is being released,” he says. “No more giveaways in this city – we haven't done that for the last few years that I've been on the council. We've been laser-focused on saving money, but also on giving people back the services that they want – at their libraries, their Rec centers, police and fire protection, our beaches, our environment.”
Alvarez has served with competitor Kevin Faulconer for three years on the city council. Their relationship is cordial, but “we have some major policy disagreement,” says Alvarez. “My focus has been on rebuilding the middle class and providing good wages for workers, that's why we've passed things like Prevailing Wage.” He says he has big plans for education citywide and he hopes their relationship continues to be cordial.
“I really love this place – this is where I grew up, this is where I am raising my own family, and I think San Diegans want to have a better city, and I'm stepping up to help do that, doing my part.”
And if elected, he will be his city's first Latino mayor. “It's going to be an incredible honor to be the mayor of this city,” he says “just because I have so much passion about the city and I want to move the city forward, so it will be an incredible honor to do that, and obviously, it will be an honor to be the city's first Latino mayor.”
Alvarez says he'll enjoy a brief “staycation” for Thanksgiving – “cook a little ham and turkey, and just enjoy the time with the family” – before jumping back into the fray in the lead-up to February.