Kevin Faulconer sworn in as 36th mayor of San Diego

SAN DIEGO – Kevin Faulconer was sworn in as mayor of San Diego today.

Faulconer, a moderate Republican, won the Feb. 11 special election following the resignation of scandal-ridden Mayor Bob Filner. Faulconer replaces Interim Mayor Todd Gloria as leader of the eighth largest city in the U.S.

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  • Kevin Faulconer sworn in as 36th mayor of San Diego

In his address to a crowded auditorium of more than 400 people, Faulconer focused on the themes of cooperation and unity that have been the hallmark of his mayoral campaign and his eight years of service on the City Council.

"Our city is at its best when we all have equal opportunities for employment, education, and the chance to live the American Dream. We do that by creating 'One San Diego,'" Faulconer said. "As your mayor, my policies will be guided with that philosophy in mind, to create a unified city in which all residents have equal access to economic prosperity, quality City services and safe neighborhoods."

"You want a mayor that will bring San Diego together," Faulconer said. "I have heard your message, and as your mayor, I have a message for my fellow San Diegans. We are one city. San Diego is not at its best until every community is at its best. We will move forward when we move forward together."

Faulconer delivered some of his remarks in Spanish. "Somos una communidad unida," Faulconer said. "Yo voy hacer un alcalde para todos." ["We are a united community. I will be a mayor for everyone."]

Faulconer was sworn in at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, making it the city's first mayoral swearing-in ceremony in southeastern San Diego. Faulconer chose the location as a symbol of his commitment for more inclusive leadership that engages all San Diego neighborhoods.

"As we stand here at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, I feel so optimistic about our future," Faulconer said. "I firmly believe that San Diego's next chapter will be written in communities just like this one. I believe our underserved neighborhoods provide the greatest hope for our future. We need leadership at City Hall that doesn't just see an empty lot and call it blight. An empty lot is opportunity."

Faulconer then went on to describe his plan to bring economic revitalization to struggling communities.

"We will implement common sense policies that attract private investment so neighborhoods have the grocery stores, restaurants, shops and affordable housing our families need," he said.

Faulconer described his vision on many key issues affecting San Diego residents, including:

The San Diego Police Department: "Together we will revitalize the Police Department from the ground up. We will ensure the highest standards so we are only keeping and attracting the best and brightest officers who will proudly and honorably serve the residents of this city."

Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman: "I'm confident that Chief Zimmerman will make the necessary changes to this department to boost morale and give each officer the support and resources they need to keep us safe – all while holding every officer to the highest levels of integrity and honor."

Relationship with Mexico: "This week I will be traveling to Tijuana to meet with Mayor Jorge Astiazarán to discuss opportunities for cooperation. The border shouldn't divide us. It should bring us closer together."

Homelessness: "No man, woman, child or veteran should have to sleep on the street. It's not right, it's not part of our values, and our work will not be done until all San Diegans have the opportunity for a roof over their heads."

Roads and infrastructure: "I envision a city where every child can walk and bike to school on a safe sidewalk, families can feel secure at night thanks to ample street lighting, and finally, our roads are actually paved. I've set a goal of paving 500 miles of roads and investing $900 million for neighborhood improvements over the next 5 years."

Education: "We will make it a priority to expand after school programs at our libraries and recreation centers. Every child deserves access to a safe and nurturing environment."

Public safety: "I am committed to building new fire stations and working with ambulance service providers to improve emergency response times so that no matter where you live in San Diego, you will get the help you need."

Jobs and the economy: "I will focus on retaining and protecting the jobs we have and creating new jobs in San Diego's most important sectors, including our traded economies: innovation, defense, tourism and maritime. And I will bring the one thing to City Hall that businesses value more than anything else – certainty."

Faulconer concluded his remarks noting that while 2013 brought scandal and turmoil to City Hall, it revealed the best of San Diego residents. "We rekindled a spirit of togetherness that has always defined us, but too often was overlooked. We've proven we can be One San Diego. And as your mayor, I will work every day to lead our City with that same spirit of cooperation and optimism. There is a greatness in our city, and my job is to help nurture it, grow it, and make it a reality."

Prepared text from Mayor Faulconer's March 3, 2014, swearing in speech

I'd like to start by thanking my wife, Katherine, and my children, Jack and Lauren. Lauren, you did a fantastic job with the Pledge of Allegiance.

To my family who is here today – my parents, my sister, and my step mom and step dad – your support means everything to me.

Mom, I remember many nights when you came home late from work and night school, but you always had time for me and Melissa. Thank you.

I'd also like to thank Pastor John Powell, the Jacobs Center, the Mount Erie Baptist Church Choir under the direction of Pastor Walter Wells, and the volunteers from every City Council district who worked under the leadership of City Clerk Liz Maland to plan today's swearing in ceremony.

I'd like to recognize our City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, Independent Budget Analyst Andrea Tevlin, City Auditor Eduardo Luna, and all of my City Council colleagues, particularly Councilmember Myrtle Cole who is hosting us in her district today.

For those of you who don't know, this is the first mayoral swearing in ceremony in Southeastern San Diego in our city's history, and I couldn't be prouder to be here today.

To our City employees, as your mayor I thank you for continuing to serve our city during this difficult time. I look forward to working with you to cultivate an environment of transparency and openness. I will work to provide you the tools and support necessary to proudly serve the residents of our great city.

And finally, I give my sincere gratitude to Council President Todd Gloria, who guided our City with compassion, care and poise. Todd, thank you my friend.

Today we begin a new chapter in San Diego, a chapter written by the people of San Diego.
You sent a clear message: You want a government that works for you.

You want a City Hall that will continue the reforms that you voted for; reforms that will help us create the city we all deserve.

You want an independent voice that doesn't just listen, but acts on your behalf.

You want a mayor that will bring San Diego together.

I have heard your message, and as your mayor, I have a message for my fellow San Diegans:
We are one city.

San Diego is not at its best until every community is at its best.

We will move forward when we move forward together.

Somos una communidad unida.

Yo voy hacer un alcalde para todos.

When we are inclusive and when we are transparent, there's no limit to what we can accomplish.

Our diversity is the fabric that weaves our city together, and we are blessed to have so many rich and vibrant communities and cultures, including our African American community; our Latino community; our Asian American community; our LGBT community; our immigrant community; business; labor; Democrats; Republicans; Independents.

We all want the same thing. We want what's best for San Diego.

And our city is at its best when we all have equal opportunities for employment, education, and the chance to live the American Dream.

We do that by creating One San Diego.

As your mayor, my policies will be guided with that philosophy in mind, to create a unified city in which all residents have equal access to economic prosperity, quality City services and safe neighborhoods.

I believe the City can play a transformative role in the daily lives of San Diegans.

This morning I want to share some thoughts about how we do it.

There is no higher priority for our city than keeping our neighborhoods safe.

And as I begin my term, there is no higher priority for me than ensuring trust and integrity in the San Diego Police Department.

Together we will revitalize the Police Department from the ground up.

We will ensure the highest standards so we are only keeping and attracting the best and brightest officers – who will proudly and honorably serve the residents of this city.

And it begins with our next Police Chief, Shelley Zimmerman.

She is the right woman and the right time.

Not only will she become the first female San Diego Police Chief, but she will be one of the finest police chiefs this city has ever seen.

With my strong support, I'm confident that Chief Zimmerman will make the necessary changes to this department to boost morale and give each officer the support and resources they need to keep us safe – all while holding every officer to the highest levels of integrity and honor.

We will redouble our efforts in proactive community policing and neighborhood engagement, and we will recruit and retain officers to create a department that reflects the diversity of our city.

It's part of a larger quest to bring equal representation and fairness to neighborhood services.

Today, just outside these walls here in Southeastern San Diego, there is unfortunately a greater risk that when you dial 911 it will take longer for a fire truck to reach your home.

We can do better. We must do better. We will do better.

I am committed to building new fire stations and working with ambulance service providers to improve emergency response times so that no matter where you live in San Diego, you will get the help you need.

And lives aren't saved just by a police officer or a fire fighter. Lives are saved through education.
We will make it a priority to expand after school programs at our libraries and recreation centers. Every child deserves access to a safe and nurturing environment.

When we create safe neighborhoods, we can create thriving neighborhoods.

Cada familia de San Diego merece sentirse seguro.

As we stand here at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, inside this beautiful room, I feel so optimistic about our future.

I firmly believe that San Diego's next chapter will be written in communities just like this one.
Many San Diego neighborhoods have struggled to get attention at City Hall. Families have been hit hard by one of the worst recessions in our country's history.

Yet I believe our underserved neighborhoods provide the greatest hope for our future.

We need leadership at City Hall that doesn't just see an empty lot and call it blight.

An empty lot is opportunity.

Under my administration, I will provide the leadership to encourage growth and revitalization in the neighborhoods that desperately need it.

And I will work tirelessly so every neighborhood has quality parks, libraries and community centers.

We will create "Economic Opportunity Districts" – areas created to encourage community revitalization – where we implement common sense policies that attract private investment so neighborhoods have the grocery stores, restaurants, shops and affordable housing our families need.

And if we want to create more housing opportunities and small businesses, we need quality roads to get us there. Rebuilding our neighborhoods starts with our streets and infrastructure.

I've worked to cut government waste and reform pensions at City Hall so our tax dollars can be spent in our neighborhoods – where they belong.

I envision a city where every child can walk and bike to school on a safe sidewalk, families can feel secure at night thanks to ample street lighting, and finally, our roads are actually paved.

I've set a goal of paving 500 miles of roads and investing $900 million for neighborhood improvements over the next 5 years.

We will do it by prioritizing street repairs in the budget while ensuring that our most neglected communities receive our key focus.

Another key focus for me will be helping our city's homeless.

We will work with our community partners to implement policies that will compassionately and cost effectively help our homeless neighbors.

No man, woman, child or veteran should have to sleep on the street. It's not right, it's not part of our values, and our work will not be done until all San Diegans have the opportunity for a roof over their heads.

To put San Diegans in housing, and to keep our neighborhoods successful, we need jobs.
As your mayor, I'm here to tell you that I am dedicated to putting San Diegans back to work.

We must partner with our Mexican counterparts to the south to move our regional economy forward together.

This week I will be traveling to Tijuana to meet with Mayor Jorge Astiazarán to discuss opportunities for cooperation.

I will work with leaders in Tijuana and Washington to modernize the border crossing and decrease wait times, transforming the San Diego-Tijuana border from a lost economic opportunity into a competitive advantage that is the envy of the entire world.

The border shouldn't divide us. It should bring us closer together.

Here in San Diego, I will focus on retaining and protecting the jobs we have and creating new jobs in San Diego's most important sectors, including our traded economies: innovation, defense, tourism and maritime.

We will encourage growth in emerging technology clusters, and educate our workforce so they have the skills today to get the jobs of tomorrow.

And I will bring the one thing to City Hall that businesses value more than anything else – certainty.

Certainty of process, certainty of timing, and certainty of fairness.

It's all possible when we put politics and egos aside, and we work together to put San Diego first.

I have the great honor of being the first sitting City Councilmember to be elected mayor in five decades, and with that comes a unique point of view not held by past mayors.

So to the City Council, let me say that I will never lose sight that leadership thrives in our neighborhoods.

Change doesn't just start in the mayor's office. It starts in our communities, in our churches and recreation centers, at our town councils and rotary clubs. It starts with each of us.

I have deep respect for each member of our City Council, and as mayor I will work with you to carry out our shared goals.

Ladies and gentlemen, it has been a difficult year for our city.

But San Diegans rose to the challenge.

We rekindled a spirit of togetherness that has always defined us, but too often was overlooked.
We've proven we can be One San Diego.

And as your mayor, I will work every day to lead our City with that same spirit of cooperation and optimism.

There is a greatness in our city, and my job is to help nurture it, grow it, and make it a reality.
I am honored to serve you as your mayor.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a lot of work to do, so let's get started. Thank you.

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