Former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana backs out of mayoral race; throws support behind David Alvarez

Special election scheduled for November 19

SAN DIEGO - Former Democratic Assemblywoman Lori Saldana backed out of the San Diego mayor's race Wednesday and threw her support behind Councilman David Alvarez.

The area's progressive leaders attempted to draft Saldana for the Nov. 19 special election to finish the term of Bob Filner, who resigned in disgrace last month. She filed papers signaling her intent to run, but her campaign stalled when Alvarez gained the endorsement of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, an umbrella group that represents unions in the region.

Alvarez is in his third year on City Council, representing Barrio Logan and South San Diego neighborhoods.

"David's commitment to standing up for our communities tells me he's the best choice," Saldana said. "David has a strong record of supporting neighborhoods and protecting the environment, and San Diegans can count on him to do the same as mayor."

Though Alvarez has only been a council member since 2010, he said in that short time he's saved several community programs from getting cut, showing he can get things accomplished quickly.

Alvarez said, "I came in, I presented a budget that ensured that we cut where we need to cut like in take home vehicles, cell phone usage, traveling for staff, and what we've done is we've turned it around. The city is building more hours in libraries, recreation centers are open. And there aren't any fire stations that are browned out."

Saldaña said she's not worried about Alvarez's lack of experience, even when Alvarez is compared to other mayoral candidates.

She added, "I have never served in office until I was elected into state legislature. When you're smart and you understand education you know how to learn, and that's important throughout your career and he'll make an excellent mayor and will pick this up very quickly, when he's in the mayor's office."

Also Wednesday, the Neighborhood Market Association endorsed former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher for mayor. The association represents 500 independent retailers.

On Monday, Fletcher gained backing from the California Small Business Association.

He is also supported by several individual unions, including those representing the city of San Diego's white collar workers, firefighters and lifeguards. He has also been endorsed by Union Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 230 and the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer, a Republican who represents the city's beach areas and Point Loma, has been endorsed by the San Diego Hotel-Motel Association and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, which is led by CEO Jerry Sanders, Filner's predecessor in the mayor's office.

Faulconer filed his nominating papers today, containing around 670 signatures -- 200 are required to qualify for the ballot.

He said people who signed-on asked for an end to dysfunction at City Hall.

"People believe in San Diego," Faulconer said. "They are ready for a mayor who believes in San Diego with them, who has the experience but also the ability to bring the people together.

A couple of other candidates filed their papers today, including Bruce Coons, executive director of the preservationist group Save Our Heritage Organisation, according to the City Clerk's Office.

The deadline for around 40 prospective candidates to file the papers is Friday at 5 p.m.

Filner resigned in disgrace Aug. 30, with more than three years left on his four-year term. If no one candidate receives the majority of the votes Nov. 19, a runoff between the top two vote-getters will be held.

Former City Attorney Mike Aguirre posted "An Open Letter to San Diego Voters" on his campaign website Wednesday, soliciting their judgment on issues they want addressed by the next mayor.

"As your mayor I will provide you full disclosure of the facts underlying our common problems," Aguirre wrote. "My platform will not be a set of promises. To paraphrase President Kennedy, it will be a set of challenges, summing up not what I intend to offer the people of San Diego but what I intend to ask of them."

The first debate is scheduled for Friday afternoon, which will be part of the 2013 California Asian Business Summit.

A spokesman for the organizers said Aguirre, Alvarez and Faulconer, and that Fletcher declined to participate.

The debate is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. at the Westin Gaslamp Quarter hotel.

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