San Diego gives GOP a win in mayor’s race

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“We’ve worked with Kevin for seven years and, even though we often disagree, he’s always been a person who understands that finding an agreement is better than fighting or litigating,” Zucchet said.

Faulconer, a former student body president at San Diego State University who jogs on the beach, cycles and plays with his two children on his spare time, was elected to the Council in 2006 after another mayor, Dick Murphy, resigned amid a crisis over city finances. He often recalled how the city weathered the turmoil, drawing a contrast with the less experienced Alvarez, who was elected to the Council in 2010.

He supports same-sex marriage and abortion rights but rarely discusses social issues, focusing instead on fiscal measures that have endeared him to the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders. During the campaign, he highlighted his opposition to a 2010 ballot measure to raise the sales tax, which lost resoundingly, and his support for a 2012 measure to cut pensions for city workers, which passed overwhelmingly. Alvarez backed the losing sides.

Faulconer is expected to take office March 3. The City Council will likely appoint a Democrat to fill his term that expires in December, giving Democrats a 6-3 majority.

Alvarez, who grew up speaking Spanish at home, extolled his family’s immigrant roots to an electorate that the registrar estimates is 18 percent Latino. He adopted a populist campaign theme of stripping power from hoteliers and developers who he said have long controlled the city.

Alvarez was a close political ally of Filner but one of the first Democrats to demand he resign. The candidates scarcely mentioned the disgraced former mayor, while embracing his emphasis on neighborhood priorities like street repairs and library hours over ambitious civic projects.

“We wanted to make this about turning the page,” said Nienstedt, the Faulconer pollster. “If you’re always talking about Bob Filner, how is that turning the page?”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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