After Bob Filner resigned from his position as mayor of San Diego, Calif., on August 30 following an onslaught of sexual harassment allegations, 11 candidates qualified for the ballot to run for mayor in the November 19 special election.
Two of those candidates, David Alvarez and Mike Aguirre, are Latinos who have prior experience as elected office holders in the city of 1.3 million people that sits adjacent to Tijuana, Mexico. Currently, 28.3 percent of the city’s population is Latino.
Alvarez and Aguirre have the opportunity to become the first Latino mayor of San Diego since California became a state. Despite former Assembly member Nathan Fletcher’s emergence as a front-runner, the presence of two Latinos among the top four candidates for mayor in the country’s eighth largest city points to the growing influence of the Latino community.
Learn about the two Latino mayoral contenders:
Name: David Alvarez
Education: bachelor’s degree, San Diego State University
Experience: Current San Diego city council member representing City Council District 8, served as a community liaison for former State Sen. Denise Moreno Ducheny, and worked in affordable housing.
Family: married with one daughter
Latino background: parents are immigrants from Mexico
If elected mayor, what would be your top priorities? “My top priorities would be 1) create jobs through economic development by updating community plans and targeting CDBG [Community Development Block Grant] funding for low income neighborhoods, 2) make San Diego a green city by passing the Climate Action Plan and implementing the Water Reuse Project and 3) create an open, transparent and respectful government.“
Why should Latinos in San Diego support your candidacy? “I would not only be the first Latino mayor in our great city but would also continue my work improving the quality of life in all neighborhoods, not just downtown. I am the only candidate with a proven record of standing up for progressive values.”
Name: Mike Aguirre
Education: bachelor’s degree, Arizona State University; master of public administration, Harvard University; and J.D., University of California, Berkeley
Experience: former city attorney of San Diego, former assistant U.S. attorney at the Department of Justice, attorney in private practice
Family: youngest of three brothers, all of whom are attorneys
Latino background: Spanish and Mexican
If elected mayor, what would be your top priorities? “Rebuilding our neighborhoods by repairing our streets and sidewalks, getting our libraries and recreation centers open, obtaining a secure source of water, and strengthening our Community Planning Groups and expanding their service to include community service plans.”
Why should Latinos in San Diego support your candidacy? “I have a record of commitment to the Latino community. In college, I organized work-study students to carry out college recruitment in Latino neighborhoods. At UC Berkeley, I met with and worked to support Cesar Chavez’s efforts to organize farm workers. When Cesar died, I assumed the responsibility of the course case he was defending in Yuma (he died the night following his second day on the witness stand). I was able to win the case and save the UFW [United Farm Workers] from a financial disaster. In 1990, I brought a voting rights lawsuit for the San Diego Chicano Federation that we won, making it possible for Latinos and African-Americans for the first time to elect candidates of their choice to the San Diego City Council. As Mayor, I will ensure Latinos are included in the highest levels of government and ensure that Latino owned businesses are given a fair opportunity to do business with our city.”