San Diego heads to polls to elect new mayor to replace Filner


SAN DIEGO -- After a mostly polite campaign, San Diego voters go to the polls today to pick a mayoral replacement for Bob Filner, who resigned in August amid a flurry of sexual harassment accusations.

If none of the candidates (11 on the ballot, one write-in) receives more than 50%, a runoff will be held between the two top vote-getters early in the new year.

Polls suggest that the front-runner is Councilman Kevin Faulconer but that he will not receive enough votes to avoid a runoff. Faulconer, 46, is the only Republican among the four major candidates.


Two Democrats -- former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, 36, and Councilman David Alvarez, 33 -- are believed to be vying for the second spot. The same polls that point to Faulconer as the leader suggest that Fletcher will finish ahead of Alvarez, albeit narrowly.

The registrar of voters predicted a voter turnout of around 50%, with a large percentage of votes coming from those who received and returned early ballots (one of those is Filner, awaiting a Dec. 9 sentencing on three criminal charges involving mistreatment of women).

A review of the requests for early ballots indicates a tilt toward Republicans, despite the Democrats’ edge in voter registration.

Filner, the city’s first Democratic mayor in two decades, is nowhere to be seen but the civic fallout remains from his chaotic nine months in office and the six-week scandal that drove him to resign.

“After the turmoil of the Filner era, we’re seeing two things: San Diegans preferring more bland and boring candidates than the bombastic, and an expanding embrace of apathy,” said Mark Larson, talk show host on KCBQ-AM (1170).

Fletcher placed third in last year’s mayoral primary behind Filner and ex-Councilman Carl DeMaio. At the time, he was an independent, after renouncing his Republican registration.

Since that loss, Fletcher has taken a position at Qualcomm Inc. and has been teaching a class at UC San Diego. He is now a Democrat.

Faulconer is finishing his second term on the council and was a major ally of Filner’s mayoral predecessor, Jerry Sanders. Alvarez is in his first term on the council.

Carl Luna, political science professor at San Diego Mesa College, said that Faulconer is “running as a centrist-moderate [and] deliberately distancing himself from the more conservative wing of the local GOP.”

While the Republican power structure decided to rally around one candidate, Luna said, “Democrats have decided to split their vote between the moderate Fletcher and the liberal Alvarez.”

Like other politic watchers, Luna is disappointed at the idea of a so-so turnout.

“Pity [that] a lot of voters are going to be paying more attention to Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations than voting,” he said.


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