By Manny Lopez | SDUN Reporter
The Kensington-Talmadge and Normal Heights Community Associations partnered to host a forum at the Kensington Community Church to hear from candidates running in the November special election to replace disgraced former Mayor Bob Filner, who resigned in August after less than nine months in office.
Over 150 people filled the church’s social hall on October 17 as three of the top four candidates answered questions from moderator Dale Larabee, a long-time Kensington resident. On hand for the event were the three leading democrats: former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, Councilmember David Alvarez and former City Attorney Mike Aguirre. Councilmember Kevin Faulconer, Republican, was invited, but according to a KenTal club official, could not make it because of a commitment to attend a memorial service.
“The club did an excellent job and the candidates were very relaxed,” KenTal President Thomas Ciaraffo said. “Everyone looked like they had a good time and it wasn’t quite a serious as most of the debates, but it was serious enough.”
Throughout the nearly two-hour event, bursts of applause mixed with laughter could be heard coming from the audience. Questions covered project funding, financial backers, opinions about developers, bike-sharing programs, economic collaboration with Mexico, local parks and police retention.
At one point, Aquirre told the audience that if they were thinking of not voting for him, that they should consider voting for Faulconer, the Republican Party-endorsed candidate. Alvarez, endorsed by the San Diego Democratic Party, praised former Councilmember and current congressional candidate Carl DeMaio, a Republican, for some of his ideas on economic policies.
Candidates were allowed the opportunity to present a two-minute opening statement. Afterward, all answers were to remain under one minute with no rebuttals. Prepared and audience-submitted questions were asked along with with several “yes or no” and one-word answer questions.
After the forum’s conclusion, the three candidates mingled with the crowd to shake hands, pose for photos and answer additional questions.
Fletcher pointed out that Kensington was his highest performing area in last year’s mayoral race. He fell short of making the runoff election, finishing third behind DeMaio.
“It was a good discussion and a good debate,” Fletcher said. “This is a great community, we’ve gotten a lot of support here and I think folks are ready for a mayor that’s going to provide basic things like public safety, good streets and some good jobs.”
Alvarez, who at 33 is the youngest member on the City Council, said he wants people to know that although he may look younger, he has been around for a while. Alvarez added that as an unknown he beat Nick Inzunza, the uncle of former District 8 Councilmember Ralph Inzunza and Felipe Hueso, the older brother of former District 8 Councilmember and State Senator Ben Hueso, to win his seat on the City Council in 2010.
“It’s flattering to look young, but in this case people first judge by appearance and my age is what stands out,” Alvarez said. “But when they get to know me, they see that I’ve accomplished a lot on the council in the past three years and prior to being a councilmember as an activist.”
Aguirre, who became the City Attorney in 2004 with 50.4 percent of the vote, but was ousted by Jan Goldsmith in 2008, said that despite having to deal with many of the same pressures as Filner, he was still able to do his job effectively.
“There is no way to replace that I’ve served San Diegans already in a city-wide office,” he said. “Kensington is a very intelligent group of people and having been their representative and as someone who cared about them, I’m able to point these things out.”
The special election will be held on Nov. 19. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election between the top two will be scheduled for February.
More information about the Kensington Talmadge Community Association can be found at kental.org.
More information about the Normal Hieghts Community Association can be found at www.normalheights.ca or by calling 619-798-6116.