San Diego mayoral candidate Kevin Faulconer gets endorsement from local Latino group

SAN DIEGO - San Diego City Councilman Kevin Faulconer announced Monday he has support of the Latino American Political Association of San Diego in his bid to be the city's next mayor, while campaign rival Councilmen David Alvarez said 23 Democratic legislative office-holders are endorsing him.

Alvarez supporters include Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. Also in the group backing Alvarez were San Diego-based legislators Marty Block, Toni Atkins, Lorena Gonzalez and Shirley Weber.

"These individuals share my vision for a San Diego for all of us and understand that leadership not only has to reach across the city, it has to reach up and down the state to create jobs, restore confidence in government and improve our neighborhoods," Alvarez said.

A recent 10News/U-T San Diego poll showed both Alvarez and Faulconer in a close race.

Faulconer told 10News he knows all too well just how important the Latino vote will be. It's one of the reasons he opened a campaign office on Logan Avenue in southeast San Diego, and two days later, he announced a key endorsement there.

The Latino American Political Association of San Diego -- which supports Faulconer -- is a group that primarily represents Hispanic business owners.

"LAPA members overwhelmingly voted to endorse the only non-Latino candidate for mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer," said Dolores Chavez, vice president of the non-partisan Latino American Political Association.

Association member Tony Rodriguez said at a news conference it was a night-and-day difference between Faulconer and Alvarez.

Rodriguez is a city contractor, but the city's slower-than-normal permitting process has forced him to look for work in cities like Chula Vista.

"Kevin Faulconer's message of economic opportunity, neighborhood improvement and experience is one that resonates with the Latino community," Rodriguez said. "I really like Kevin's plans for cutting red tape at City Hall so small businesses, especially those owned by Latinos, can succeed. He demonstrated a clear understanding of the problems at City Hall and has solutions."

Latino voters, SurveyUSA editor Jay Leve believes, were a key factor in Alvarez making the November runoff.

The most recent 10News/UT-San Diego scientific poll showed Faulconer taking 47 percent of the vote and Alvarez with 46 percent. Now, with just five weeks left until the runoff election, Leve feels getting "young" Latinos to the polls will be important for Alvarez.

Faulconer is paying attention, and he told 10News, "And it's critical that we have not only their support but we continue to include every neighborhood, every group in the city."

Faulconer said the Latino community would always have a "seat at the table" in his administration if he wins the Feb. 11 runoff election.

The winner of the election will fill the final almost three years of the term of ex-Mayor Bob Filner, who stepped down Aug. 30.

The County Registrar of Voters said San Diegans should start receiving their mail in ballots by Jan. 13.

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