Speaking with Kevin Faulconer

By Mikey Beats

Our previous mayor has brought shame once again to San Diego politics. The entire nation is watching this election to see if San Diego can redeem itself and make the right decision for who can best lead us. Could Kevin Faulconer be the shining light to get us through another dark period in San Diego politics?

I decided to not focus on the politics too much, but more on who Kevin Faulconer is as a person so you the reader can base your decision on more than just the political issues.

Mikey Beats: I understand you were born and raised in Oxnard, California.

Kevin Faulconer: I was indeed.

What did your parents do?

My dad worked for the City of Oxnard. My mom started off as a secretary, put herself through night school and then ultimately became a professor at a community college and then administrator. Growing up as a kid, she was always telling me and my sister the importance of education. She spent a lot of our time as we were growing up going to night school and getting it done.

Siblings?

Yes, a sister, Melissa here in town. She’s a kindergarten teacher. She’s a phenomenally patient, great person.

Is she younger or older?

Younger sister. We both went to San Diego State. We had relatives here growing up as kids, so we spent a lot of time here during the summers and holidays. I left and went to San Francisco for a little bit for a fellowship program up there. I always knew coming here to San Diego State that this is where I wanted to be. I never looked back. I love this place, one of the best cities in the country and can’t wait to be mayor.

What was your major at San Diego State?

Political science interestingly enough. I was real involved at SDSU with student government. I’m still a huge Aztec fan. Big alumni.

While you were going to San Diego State, where did you work?

I did a little bit of everything. I went back home. Worked odd jobs at home. Gosh, cleaned carpets. All kind of interesting things.

How long have you and your wife Catherine been married?

15 years.

15 years, congratulations. How did you meet?

We met at an event at a convention of visitors bureaus mixer years ago, actually. She knew some mutual friends of mine that introduced us and, yeah, it’s been fantastic.

How old are your kids?

12 and 10. Jack is in junior high and Lauren is in 5th grade. Both in public schools here in Point Loma. And, you know, they keep us going a million miles an hour.

I bet.

Jack is really into flip force and parkour. Lauren is really into gymnastics. So that’s the latest and greatest in our world.

Oh, both are really limber.

[Laughter] A lot more than their dad!

Ha-ha, I’m not very limber myself. That leads me into outdoor hobbies.

I really got into cycling a few years ago. I love it. You know, I’ve done a few sprint triathlons and that really got me more interested in cycling. In fact, I was training for the Million Dollar Challenge, which is the ride for the Challenged Athlete Foundation from San Francisco to San Diego. I spent most of last year getting ready for that. And, of course, with the Filner resignation, I decided to run for mayor and that put an end to the training for the ride. I was getting up to 80 miles a day and getting ready for the ride.

Wow.

As much as I’m excited about the mayor’s race and the opportunity to do everything, I missed the ride, but I will do it again some day.

Good to know that you are into bicycling. I was going to ask you about your thoughts and goals for the bicycle master plan.

Yes, huge importance to the city. It’s one of those things that is not a ton of money but makes a huge difference for our quality of life. We’ve seen what other cities have done, and we’re just starting to scratch the surface here in San Diego. As a cyclist myself, one of my priorities is to make sure we have much more bike-friendly communities. Whether that’s class one bike lanes, whether that’s a bike share program that I took the lead on. We have such a fantastic outdoor-oriented community, and we need to catch up to what other cities are doing. The great news is, people are already out there doing it. From the city’s standpoint, really providing that infrastructure to make it easier and safer is what I’ll be pushing for.

Absolutely awesome. I once took a ride from PB to Logan Heights where my brother lives. Crossing over OB from Ingraham is deadly. Deadly game of frogger over there.

You just have to have a focus on it. As we’re updating our community plans, that’s what the master plan is all about, incorporating cycling and alternate modes of transportation. It’s not all about the cars.

We have a lot of surfers who read the magazine, so I have to ask: Have you ever surfed?

Oh yeah, absolutely. Growing up in Oxnard, you have to. It’s been awhile here, but yeah.

So you’ve gotten wet and you’ve had the experience. What’s your favorite beach in San Diego?

All of the beaches I represent.

Ha-ha, politician!

Ocean Beach, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. And now La Jolla Shores and all the other ones that I look to represent as mayor. Why I got involved and ran for council to begin with, I was chairman on the park and rec board and got involved in the Mission Bay Park committee. I saw what the city wasn’t doing for funding for Mission Bay Park with the water quality and environmental improvements. The hotels that are there were designed to pay for operations of the park and provide the revenue. The city was in essence stealing those dollars and I said that’s not right. I ran for office and eventually won and I authored the Mission Bay Park initiative which ensures that the dollars now that are generated there stay for Mission Bay Park improvements, water quality improvements, pedestrian pathways. We just did the Rose Creek Bridge and bicycle/pedestrian bridge.

The outdoor environment is so critical to our quality of life here in San Diego. And as somebody who has been very proud to represent our beaches and bays for eight years, I’m going to bring my experience and ability to cut through red tape to protect our assets for generations to come.

Beautiful, thank you. I grew up in Bay Park and live in PB. I’m on the PB Planning Group now. The work you’ve done has been amazing. I really appreciate it. I have to make a comment on Ian Clampett. I respect that guy highly because he goes in there and he’s on the firing range. They light him up but he’s 100 percent professional.

Yeah, he’s a good guy.

Your position on business improvement districts?

Strong supporter. Extremely important work for every neighborhood in San Diego. I’ve been a champion for them since the very beginning. They are providing services at an enhanced level of service that the city just doesn’t provide. The fact that business are coming together to have a say on how the neighborhood works and is shaped, how it looks and how it functions. I’ve been a strong believer of that and have been as a council member. When I’m mayor, I’m going to make sure I empower, keep and expand our business improvement districts.

Sara Berns pushed me into getting on the PB Planning Group.

It makes a huge difference. It’s about storefronts, it’s about vitality, it’s about outdoor seating, clean sidewalks, it’s about marketing our local neighborhoods as destinations whether it be Pacific Beach, North Park or City Heights. It’s all about how we take what’s unique about our neighborhood retail and promote that not only to the neighborhood, but to other people across the city.

What do you have to offer small business owners here in San Diego?

Somebody who’s a champion for continuing regulatory reform. Makes it easier for people to start and grow their businesses and I’ve demonstrated that, I have a track record of that on the council. Somebody who has pushed reforms to allow our small businesses to operate and that is the key to a healthy city. The backbone of our economy in San Diego is small businesses. Large businesses are important, rightfully so. But as I said, the backbone is small businesses.

When small businesses are doing well, providing good quality jobs for our families, the city is doing well. That’s how we get our revenue to pave streets, to keep our parks and libraries and rec centers open, to hire more police officers, the two go hand in hand. So as the mayor, I understand how important it is to create good quality jobs and particularly that focus on the small business community. When City Hall can help, we help, and when we need to get out of the way, we’ll get out of the way.

I’m drinking the Kool-Aid man, I’m feeling it. What is your stance on managed competition?

Strong supporter of competition and the ability to come in and provide good quality city services for the lowest possible price. As I know, the money that we’re dealing with at City Hall is the tax payers’ dollars. They work hard to pay their taxes and want to ensure that City Hall isn’t squandering it.

So to have that competition, the program that has already proven to work, I’m going to continue that and be a champion for it. It’s about providing good quality services at the best cost and I’ll continue to be a supporter.

And last question, favorite Mexican food in San Diego?

Oh man, there’s too many to choose from.

You can say taco shop. Best beans, best salsa, best Cali burrito.

You know what, I’ll tell you, I was just at an old favorite, Nati’s down in OB. The carne asada was great.

[Laughter] Excellent. Thank you so much for your time.