Who’s Running for Mayor in San Diego, and Why It Matters

It is crucial that the incoming mayor in San Diego harness the momentum towards a more liveable city. In 2013, San Diegans repeatedly demonstrated that they wanted liveability: DECO Bike Share passed unanimously and $200 million was front-loaded to SANDAG’s bicycle projects, which was the largest investment committed to bike infrastructure in the state.

The two major mayoral candidates, David Alvarez and Kevin Faulconer, are facing the ends of their campaigns– and the race is close. Both candidates have expressed support for smart growth and making San Diego more liveable, and even participated in a Speaker Series hosted by the Livable Streets Coalition. Bike SD has endorsed Alvarez for mayor, and is even organizing a ride for him today. Our affiliate, the San Diego Bicycle Coalition hosted a Q & A with the candidates, but how do David Alvarez and Kevin Faulkner differ on their experience and plans for San Diego’s bikers and walkers?

David Alvarez: the Environmental Leader

Experience

Alvarez_Headshot_Cutout_500x714.jpg-1388730398Alvarez was born in the Barrio Logan community of San Diego and elected to the City Council as a Democrat in 2010. He is Chair of the Natural Resources & Culture Committee, Vice Chair of the Land Use & Housing Committee, and a member of the Budget & Finance and Rules & Economic Development Committees. As a Councilmember, he has supported affordable housing, including COMM22, a mixed-use transit-oriented development project. He has prioritized infrastructure, such as by improving streetlights and street repair. He has also worked to make San Diego more sustainable by facilitating a coalition to develop the City’s plan for climate change, and working for environmental justice in the polluted neighborhood he comes from.

Mayoral Plans

As mayor, he has specific plans to make San Diego more liveable. He has pledged a commitment to Vision Zero, which is an initiative to eliminate all preventable bicycling and pedestrian deaths with multifaceted political strategies. He promises to make San Diego a sustainable region by keeping SANDAG (San Diego’s regional planning agency) accountable. He has proposed $2.5 million for new parks (as much as 50 urban acres of parkland) and $1 million for bike facilities. He has expressed a commitment to the Pedestrian Master Plan, Transit Oriented Development and Safe Routes to School. As he explained, “We have the opportunity, through smart planning, careful prioritization of resources, and a better long term vision, to rebuild San Diego into the world-class city we know it can be.” He promises to lead the City to get San Diegans passionate about biking and walking.

Kevin Faulconer: The Cycling Rival

Experience

FaulknerFaulconer has been a Republican Councilmember since 2006 and is now the Chair of the Audit Committee. Like Alvarez, he has worked to improve San Diego’s infrastructure, such as by investing in repaving streets, city parks, and improving sidewalks. He championed the North Embarcadero Plan, which will make the waterfront more pedestrian friendly. He supported sustainable investment in city parks, as well as initiatives like Bike Share and the Bayshore Bikeway.

However, BikeSD chose Alvarez over Faulconer, in part, because of how Faulconer bungled bicycling safety in District 2. As BikeSD explains, “board member Nicole Burgess has had the opportunity to work with Faulconer and his staff in addressing barriers to bicycling in District 2 for over three years. However in the three years that Burgess has been involved in advocacy, despite repeatedly highlighting the urgent need to make bicycling safe on Nimitz Boulevard on the three critical blocks between Chatsworth and Wabaska – Faulconer and his team have been unable to direct city staff to make the needed improvements. In fact the improvements that were implemented were not requested by the District 2 bike/pedestrian advisory committee or the Peninsula Community Planning Board.” So can Faulconer be trusted to take necessary action to make San Diego more liveable?

Mayoral Plans

As mayor, Faulconer plans to make sure the Bike Plan is implemented with more dedicated bike lanes. He envisions a city where every resident has the same access to “quality” streets and “safe” neighborhoods.When asked about how he plans to make San Diego more liveable, he responded, “Bottom line, let’s try something. Let’s see some action.”

While Faulconer does not give specifics about how he plans to make San Diego more liveable, he does point out that he is a cyclist.

How close are they?

A Democratic poll from Public Policy Polling showed the race was a dead heat, with Alvarez leading Faulconer by just 0.1%. Other polling, released on the same day by the San Diego Republican party, showed Faulconer leading the race by 13 points. While San Diego has more registered Democrats than Republicans, Republicans tend to vote more in special elections like this one.

Get Out The Vote

February 11th, ride your bike to the polls and vote for the candidate that will do the most to make San Diego the livable city it should be. Being that this is a special election, voter turnout will be low, so your vote is worth so much more. Help out by connecting with Bike San Diego and their efforts, because Getting Out the Vote is crucial for this election.

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