(619) 505-7777

San Diego Democrats for Equality endorse David Alvarez for Mayor

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Democrats for Equality voted to endorse David Alvarez for Mayor following a candidates forum held last night. It took two ballots to achieve the 60% margin needed for an endorsement.

Before making the endorsement, the club had to hold several votes on procedural items, including whether Alvarez would be allowed to speak in front of the group after he showed up very late and after two other candidates had finished answering questions and departed the building.

Following the club's regular monthly business and an update from Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, the candidate forum began with only two Democratic candidates -- Bruce Coons and Nathan Fletcher -- present. With the special election to replace former Mayor Bob Filner, the Democrat that the club has endorsed, one club member noted that no one expected the September meeting to include an endorsement forum, thinking that this would be a "chill time."

Coons and Fletcher were afforded the opportunity to give a timed opening and closing statement, and answer five questions from club members.

During the question-and-answer process, Fletcher discussed on his switch from Republican to Independent to Democrat in a year's time.

"This is where I belong. This is where I'll stay. You'll have a champion on the issues you care about," Fletcher, a former state assembly member, told the crowd.

Coons, the executive of the Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO), said he wasn't thinking about this a month ago and did not picture himself running for mayor. He told the crowd he's running on a "neighborhoods first" platform and wants to work to do whatever he can to "improve the quality of life for all residents no matter where they live."

Not long after Fletcher and Coons left the forum, two more candidates seeking the club's endorsement entered the room, which by that time was almost as hot as a sauna. Alvarez and former City Attorney Mike Aguirre walked into the Joyce Beers Community Center at about 8:40 pm - nearly an hour after the scheduled 7:50 pm start time of the candidate forum.

Alvarez and Aguirre said they were at other meetings speaking to voters and seeking endorsements. Their tardiness caused one club member to say that "they made the choice of where to be."

Other members disagreed, and a motion was to allow Alvarez and Aguirre to address the club in a shortened presentation that would give each candidate five minutes total to answer the five questions.

This sparked a great deal of discussion among club members, who argued about whether the two late candidates should be allowed to speak.

The issue was eventually voted upon, and Alvarez and Aguirre were each given their five minutes.

Aguirre said that being at the San Diego Democrats for Equality meeting - a club he has spent much time participating in - "felt like coming home to Thanksgiving dinner." He spoke much about his four-year stint as City Attorney.

Alvarez, currently a city councilmember, told the club that he supported The San Diego LGBT Community Center by providing $15,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money at a time when funds to The Center had been cut.

Following remarks by Alvarez and Aguirre, the club voted to make an endorsement, and members were invited to speak in favor of the various candidates.

One member noted that all of four of the Democratic candidates who addressed the club received a 100% score on the San Diego Democrats for Equality candidate questionnaire.

In support of Alvarez, longtime club member Larry Baza said that "San Diego needs a squeaky clean Latino [in the mayor's office] for the first time in its history!"

After the first round of voting, Alvarez came 0.5% short of receiving the endorsement, garnering 59.5% of the vote. Club rules call for 60% of the vote to go to a candidate to receive an endorsement. Fletcher had 36% of the vote.

The club voted a second time, with just the top two from the first round on the ballot, and Alvarez received the club's endorsement with 66% of the vote. Fletcher had 34% of the vote on the second ballot.

Loud applause erupted in the room after the results were announced.

The special election to elect San Diego's next mayor is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 19.