It surely sounds like Todd Glorias running for mayor. And it looks like hes got a running mate of sorts in David Alvarez. This is good to see, whether or not youre likely to support Mayor Kevin Faulconer for a second term in 2016.
San Diego City Councilmembers Gloria and Alvarez planned for at least a week in advance to provide some kind of response to Faulconers State of the City speech last Wednesday night at the Balboa Theatre. A few minutes after the speech ended and the packed theater emptied out, Gloria and Alvarez met members of the press outside on Fourth Avenue and pointedly criticized the mayors words—or lack of words. During the following couple of days, the duo did television appearances together on San Diego 6 (The CW) and KUSI, and Gloria went solo on Fox 5 (twice), NBC 7 and KUSI (a second time) and provided a statement to 10 News. Alvarez, meanwhile, did Despierta San Diego (Univision) and KOGO alone.
Gloria, it seems, is ratcheting up the aggressiveness that he showed last year while pushing for an increase in the local minimum wage. Hes always been a genuinely nice person, and that friendliness and courtesy have typically been extended even to his political opponents, tested only, in our memory, by short-time Mayor Bob Filner. This week, he (and Alvarez) came at Faulconer hard, questioning the mayors willingness and capacity to be a leader.
Gloria begins by reminding viewers that he—in 2014—once gave a State of the City speech and then lamenting that Faulconer missed an opportunity to lead boldly. He attacks the mayor on two main policy issues: rebuilding the citys derelict infrastructure and figuring out how to keep the Chargers in San Diego, ridiculing Faulconers plan to create a football-stadium task force as an ineffectual tactic that another mayor—Dick Murphy—tried more than 10 years ago.
I think San Diegans are really hungering for: This is where its going to go, this is how were going to pay for it and this is when you can vote on it, he told Fox 5. We didnt have any of those details last night, and I dont think thats too much to ask for in the State of the City address.
Politicians love to relate public policy to home finance, and Gloria did that in the same interview, saying that Faulconer makes irresponsible decisions: We have a $3-billion infrastructure problem in this city, and the mayor last night committed roughly $100 million over the next five years, and thats essentially the equivalent of making the minimum payment on your credit card. And any of your viewers know that that is a recipe for fiscal disaster, as well as a really good way of never, ever making any progress on an issue.
A former public-relations executive, Faulconers not the type wholl make explosive mistakes—hes the anti-Filner. Hes safe. Hes carefully crafted. Hes vanilla. Thats how hes potentially vulnerable; then again, it also might be exactly what San Diego wants. In any event, Gloria and Alvarez seem to be laying the groundwork for a sustained attack on Faulconers cautiousness.
We love that Alvarez has Glorias back. He was the lone Democratic council member to remain loyal to Gloria even after his ouster as council president was assured. Its likely that the council Republicans installation of Sherri Lightner as president is whats pushed Gloria and Alvarez to go big. Whatever the case, they should make a formidable team.
Lightner, meanwhile, seems uninterested in providing a healthy counterbalance to Faulconers executive branch. Thats her prerogative. But its why were glad that Gloria and Alvarez are doing what theyre doing. We can argue the finer points of the policies at issue. As long as they choose their battles wisely, make smart arguments and dont go completely off the rails—à la the Republicans in Congress vis-à-vis Barack Obama—its great for the public to listen to a debate. If youre a Faulconer supporter, the silver lining of the criticism is that it could push the mayor to be bolder and shore up his defenses on the cautiousness battlefront.
As weve said before, Glorias possibly the only candidate who can give Faulconer a run for his money in 2016. At the very least, its important for voters to have a choice.
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