San Diego Mayoral Endorsement: Nathan Fletcher, Democratic Party

San Diego Mayoral Endorsement: Nathan Fletcher, Democratic Party

Though not endorsed by the Democratic Party, Fletcher offers promising plans for San Diego jobs and education

With our endorsement for Democrat Nathan Fletcher as San Diego mayor, the Guardian Editorial Board is doing something we haven’t done in a long time — challenging the endorsement of the Democratic Party, which supports Fletcher’s fellow Democratic candidate David Alvarez.

The Nov. 19 Special Election for San Diego mayor finds San Diego’s Democratic Party in an interesting — and perhaps troubling — position. When the non-partisan special election to replace sex scandal-plagued Democrat Bob Filner was announced this past August, Fletcher was presumed a de facto front-runner. But the Democratic Party endorsement of San Diego City Councilmember Alvarez in late September introduced a second strong Democratic candidate — and with him, the risk of splitting Democratic votes and handing the election over to Republican-endorsed Kevin Faulconer.

Fletcher’s move to the Democratic Party on May 4 marked his second party switch in just over a year — he switched from Republican to Independent in March 2012, when the Republican endorsement went to Carl DeMaio. Because Fletcher is a newly minted Democrat, we can understand the motivation behind the Democratic Party’s decision to endorse Alvarez, a longtime registered Democrat who grew up in Barrio Logan and attended college at SDSU. Aesthetically, Alvarez is a candidate that the Democratic Party can safely present to its stable voter base, but Fletcher’s platform objectives better suit our — and San Diego’s — interests.

Fletcher’s education plan pushes the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, initiative, which aims to enforce educational programs in those areas. The focus on STEM makes sense for San Diego, whose rapidly growing technology sector provides an opportunity for schools in the area — UCSD included — to gain a competitive edge.

And since Fletcher has close ties to tech industry leaders such as Qualcomm CEO and Jacobs School of Engineering namesake Irwin Jacobs, we expect that he’ll be able to make real headway in partnering with businesses to advance STEM in schools. His other plans for San Diego prioritize job creation — he has pledged to bring 130,000 new jobs to San Diego by 2020 — and repairing city infrastructure to improve struggling neighborhoods.

Alvarez’s education plan as mayor focuses mostly on bringing culture, arts and career education to the K-12 system — a goal that, while admirable, does not capitalize on San Diego’s growing tech industry. Alvarez, born and raised in Barrio Logan, has made waves on San Diego’s city council with his plan to revamp the historically troubled area by bringing in developers, making divisions between residential and industry areas. Alvarez’s plan is ambitious, but it has faced criticism from opponents who say that it will push out, rather than support, low-income communities in the area. Additionally, as only a third-year city councilmember, he lacks the track record that might otherwise show success in enacting his plans.

By contrast, Fletcher’s demonstrated ability to “get things done” despite partisan differences has earned him the endorsements of Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, both staunch Democrats who have been strong advocates for the UC system. Brown authored Prop 30, which passed in November 2012 and hiked taxes on the rich, and prevented over $500 million in cuts to state colleges.

The point is that even though Fletcher hasn’t been a Democrat for long, his plans indicate a commitment to values we can support. When we endorsed Democrat Bob Filner for San Diego mayor in November 2012, we called him the “lesser evil” against Republican Carl DeMaio. Filner got our endorsement as the only candidate who supported the Prop 30 — and Carl DeMaio’s questionable economic plan pushed us over the edge. When Filner won the election, he became the first elected Democratic mayor San Diego had seen in 20 years since Democrat Maureen F. O’Connor was elected in 1992. Fletcher’s detractors anchor their complaints with the argument that Fletcher is a “flip-flopper,” but these criticisms come out of a rather unwarranted fear that any candidate that isn’t party-bred cannot be trusted.

Though Democrats have been hesitant to embrace Fletcher, we don’t feel that his recent switch to the Democratic Party will marginalize his efficacy. In fact, his transition assures us that he won’t merely serve as an institutional puppet for the party machine.

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  • G

    Greg WadeNov 26, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    In hindsight…maybe this wasn’t a great endorsement.
    Well played.

    Reply
  • V

    VincentNov 19, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    He is a politician. He specializes in conning you into liking him.

    Reply
  • A

    April L.Nov 16, 2013 at 1:34 am

    Glad to see tritons standing behind fellow tritons. I took Fletcher’s classes while he taught at UCSD last year and he was hands down my favorite political science teacher. He had the ability to connect with every single person in the room and get them to see an opposite side’s viewpoint on key issues. That’s exactly the kind of leadership we need and he will do us proud.

    Reply
  • L

    LOL GuardianNov 15, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    This article is just a bunch of excuses. Next time just admit your liberal bias and move on.

    Reply