SAN DIEGO (CNS) – One of the better known candidates for San Diego mayor is planning to drop out of the race later Monday and throw his support to City Councilman David Alvarez.
Bruce Coons, executive director of the preservationist group Save Our Heritage Organization, has scheduled a 5 p.m. news conference to formalize the announcement.
Coons was a leading opponent of a $45.3 million plan to build a bridge to carry vehicle traffic away from the center of Balboa Park, a proposal that was approved by the City Council but overturned in court. He said the new bridge would have jeopardized the historic value of the park.
Alvarez was in the City Council majority that favored the plan, which was championed by ex-Mayor Jerry Sanders and Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs.
Alvarez is considered one of the top candidates in the Nov. 19 special election to determine who will finish the term of Bob Filner, who resigned after less than nine months in office.
With the field narrowing to 10, he is also facing competition from City Attorney Mike Aguirre, council colleague Kevin Faulconer and former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, among others.
Fletcher Monday became the latest to release a plan to address a critical staffing shortage in the San Diego Police Department, which according to the most recent report has 135 fewer sworn officers than called for in the budget. Officers have been leaving to the tune of around 10 a month for several years to nearby law enforcement agencies that offer higher take-home pay.
Fletcher’s plan calls for increasing the amount of officers’ paychecks by lowering out-of-pocket costs for health care; supporting a mentoring program to increase the rate in which recruits pass the police academy; training officers to act as recruiters and provide bonuses for successful referrals; creating a joint training facility with other agencies; reestablishing community storefronts that allow officers to interact with the public; and setting reliability standards so that officer safety or investigations are not threatened by technology blackouts or equipment failures.
“It’s widely acknowledged that SDPD is facing serious problems, mostly as a result of poor recruitment and retention of sworn personnel,” Fletchers aid. “The good news is, we know exactly what it will take to restore the department. We just need city leadership that makes this a top priority, and when I’m mayor, San Diego can count on me to do just that.”
If no one candidate wins more than half the vote in the special election, a runoff between the top two vote-getters would be held early next year.