In a hotly contested special election for mayor with lower-than-expected voter turnout, Republican City Councilman Kevin Faulconer (District 2) outpolled rival Democratic City Councilman David Alvarez (District 8) by a 10-point margin.
With 100 percent of the ballots counted in all 582 precincts, Faulconer collected 137,296 votes (55 percent) to Alvarez’s 114,478 (45 percent).
“The people of San Diego have sent a message tonight,” said Faulconer, 47, of Point Loma during his election-night speech to cheering supporters. “And it is loud and clear. You want an independent voice.
“You want a mayor that will bring San Diego together,” he continued. “You want a mayor that will continue the reforms that you voted for, to create the city that you deserve. I will be that mayor.”
Alvarez, 33, was gracious on election night as he conceded the mayoral contest.
“I want to congratulate Kevin Faulconer,” tweeted Alvarez. “It’s clear that he will be the next mayor of San Diego. I am looking forward to working with him and interim Mayor Todd Gloria to move our city forward. Once again, thank you to the fantastic volunteers and supporters. I am truly proud of you.”
Cynthia Paes, assistant registrar for San Diego County, said election officials have 28 days to certify the results. She added voter turnout was nearly 38 percent.
“We were expecting at least 45 percent,” Paes said, who adding the actual turnout number was “pretty average” compared with other counties in similar circumstances statewide.
City Clerk Liz Maland said Faulconer’s swearing in is tentatively set for March 3 or March 10.
The City Council will need to appoint an interim councilmember to fill Faulconer’s seat because Faulconer is termed out after two four-year stints, said Maland. The appointed replacement will serve until Faulconer’s term officially expires in December, even though a primary election for District 2 is set for June 3. If none of the candidates in the primary election garner 51 percent of the vote, a runoff election will be scheduled for Nov. 4, Maland said.
Meanwhile, Faulconer will serve out the remaining nearly three years of disgraced former Mayor Bob Filner. Filner resigned Aug. 30 — just nine months into his term — after numerous women came forward to allege he sexually harassed them.
Faulconer’s departure to serve as mayor decreases the Republican City Council minority from 5-4 to 5-3, although the City Council is technically a nonpartisan political body. If a Democrat were to be appointed to fill the remainder of Faulconer’s term through December, that would give Democrats a 6-3 majority advantage, with the prospect of veto power to reject the new mayor’s agenda.
“What happens is there will be 30 business days, once the seat is vacant, to apply for a special appointment to fill out the term of [Faulconer’s] seat,” Maland said. “It’s a major process requiring the gathering of at least 50 signatures.”
Maland said the interim Council District 2 representative would likely be seated in April. The interim councilmember will not be allowed under the city’s charter to run for the full District 2 term in the June election, Maland said.
Maland said whoever wins the race for District 2 — either in the primary or a runoff election — would not be inaugurated and seated until December.
Faulconer will have the distinction of becoming the only Republican mayor in any of America’s 10 largest cities.