Nearly 100 volunteers crowded San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez’s backyard, his temporary campaign headquarters, in Barrio Logan to kick off his mayoral campaign on Sept. 14th.
“We are San Diego! We are San Diego!” the group of volunteers cheered after Alvarez gave a speech thanking volunteers for their support.
“It’s going to be a lot of work, but we know how to work hard,” Alvarez said. “The reason why we’re doing this is because we’re really at a crossroads in San Diego. It’s going to be very clear that we can either move backwards or move forward.”
The large group of volunteers then went around the Barrio Logan neighborhood knocking on people’s doors to get enough petition signatures that would officially land Alvarez on the ballot on Nov. 19.
Alvarez was one of 11 candidates running for San Diego mayor during a special election to replace Bob Filner, who resigned on Aug. 30 after a string of sexual harassment allegations forced him out of office. San Diego’s city charter states that the City Council must call for a special election within 90 days of a vacancy in the mayor’s office.
“We are San Diego! We are San Diego!”
-Alvarez campaign volunteers
Time constraint causes conflicts
During a special election, a candidate must receive the majority of the votes or the top two
candidates with the most votes move on to a runoff election. According to the city charter, a runoff must be held within 49 days of the special election, which would be sometime in early 2014.
After all votes were counted, none of the 11 candidates received more than half of the votes and the election resulted in a runoff. Alvarez and San Diego City Councilman Kevin Faulconer are now in the running for mayor after receiving the most votes on Nov. 19.
The candidates had to cover a lot of ground during just eight weeks to get their name out to the public and secure votes. In a short amount of time, candidates had to reach out to the public and convince registered voters to head out to the polls.
“It’s not like when you do the primary season and you have another five months for the general election. You have a very compressed time frame, so you have less time to introduce yourself,” San Diego Mesa College political science professor Carl Luna said.
Candidates were also rushed to get endorsements and donations. The day before the election, U-T San Diego estimated that altogether, the candidates had raised around $5 million in campaign money.
Mayoral candidates reach out to student voters
Candidates faced off in several debates, including one hosted by KPBS on San Diego State University’s campus. Candidates let SDSU students in the audience know their stance on several issues and why they should become San Diego’s next mayor.
SLIDESHOW: City councilman David Alvarez attended a mayoral debate at his alma mater where SDSU students sat in the audience.
Students living in and around campus didn’t have to go far to cast their votes on election day. SDSU hosted a polling place on campus at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center.
The mayoral candidates used debates, social media and home phone calls to reach out to voters across the city. Alvarez and his volunteers visited San Diegans’ homes to try to get their votes.
“I think for all of us it’s about getting to voters, directly talking to them and making sure they know who we each are,” Alvarez said. “In my case, that means a very grassroots campaign. It means going door to door and actually talking to voters and letting them know who I am and why I represent the best choice to be mayor.”
City of San Diego awards 92-year-old poll worker
In the transition period after Filner’s resignation, City Council President Todd Gloria inherited mayoral duties in his role as interim mayor of San Diego. On election day, he sent a representative from the mayor’s office to award a 92-year-old poll worker with a special commendation for years of service during San Diego elections.
VIDEO: Miss Johnnie Lee Byrd received special attention on Nov. 19 since the special election marked the last time she hosted a polling location.
City councilwoman Myrtle Cole also sent congratulations and a special plaque to the dedicated poll worker and thanked her for her service to the community in District 4, Cole’s assigned San Diego district.
What’s next for the candidates?
The Oct. 19 special election resulted in a runoff between Republican candidate Faulconer and Democrat Alvarez. Faulconer received 42 percent of the votes and Alvarez received 27 percent, according to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. The city councilmen will face off sometime in February and even though Faulconer received a majority of the votes, Alvarez is gaining some ground and winning over more voters.
A poll released by 10News and U-T San Diego on Dec. 8 revealed that support for both candidates is pretty even. Faulconer continues to lead with 47 percent to Alvarez’s 46 percent while seven percent remain undecided, according to the poll. The poll also asked what qualities are important for San Diego’s next mayor to have. The majority said that integrity and leadership are the most important qualities they are looking for.