SAN DIEGO -- Republican Councilman Kevin Faulconer defeated Democratic Councilman David Alvarez, 54.5% to 45.5%, to become the city's next mayor, according to unofficial results tallied by the county registrar of voters.

The tally includes all absentee votes and votes from all 582 precincts. Unofficial turnout for the special election was 37%.

Alvarez, 33, said he called Faulconer to offer his congratulations and say that he looks forward to working with the new mayor. If elected, Alvarez would have been the youngest and first Latino mayor in modern San Diego history.

Faulconer, a former public relations executive before entering politics, promised that he and Alvarez will work together "to move our city forward."

Acting Mayor Todd Gloria, a Democrat who endorsed Alvarez, praised the Alvarez campaign: "Son of a janitor and fast-food worker; his story is proof that anything is possible in San Diego."

Faulconer, 47, told cheering supporters Tuesday night that he "can't wait to be the next mayor of this fabulous and great city."

He also allowed himself a not-so-veiled reference to the now-passed era of ex-Mayor Bob Filner, who resigned Aug. 31 after months of a chaotic management style at City Hall followed by multiple accusations of sexual harassment.

"This city has gone through a lot in the last year, but we knew that as San Diegans we were better than that," Faulconer said.

Faulconer is to be sworn in March 3 to serve the final 33 months of Filner's term.

Filner, 71, was the city's first Democratic mayor in two decades. He is now serving a 90-day home-confinement sentence after pleading guilty to three charges of mistreating women.

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tony.perry@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATsandiego