“We have a candidate we can support,” said Doug Case, president of the Democrats for Equality, said after the endorsement vote. It’s about balancing practical decisions with ideology, he added.
Coons and Fletcher both gave brief opening statements, and took turns answering five questions from the audience read by Carla Kirkwood, vice president of political action for the club.
Fletcher addressed his switch to the Democratic Party in January, saying that disagreement with Republican members of the California Assembly lead to “the beginning of the end of my relationship with the GOP.”
“I became a Democrat because I believe our party has the best path and plans to ensure access to the American Dream,” said Fletcher. “To make sure that children can get a quality education, to make sure folks have access to economic opportunity, to ensure that we are a freer, fairer, more equitable, more peaceful world.”
Coons told the audience that he is “the candidate who doesn’t have any baggage,” and that though he was never planning to run for mayor he felt the need for a citizen statesman in San Diego—someone who will “do the job and go home.”
“I’m not running for another office,” said Coons. “So I can make the courageous decisions others can’t.”
Just as the forum ended, and the audience was getting fidgety, Alvarez and Mike Agguire, former City Attorney, arrived from the Voice and Viewpoint forum at the Jacobs Center in Lincoln Park.
A motion was made to allow them to answer the five questions, and after considerable debate, it passed and the candidates were given time to speak.
Alvarez was apologetic for his tardiness and extremely grateful for the club’s generosity in allowing himself and Agguire to speak.
“I’ve been a member of this club for some time and I respect everything that you’ve done, that we’ve done,” said Alvarez. “I’ll continue to walk with you like I have for 18 years-- when others were saying that it wasn’t the right thing for a young Catholic like myself. I believe in social justice.”
He also spoke of a 15 thousand dollar donation he made to the San Diego LGBT Community Center when it became ineligible for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) earlier this year.
Agguire compared speaking to the club to “coming home for Thanksgiving Dinner” and referred to his experience as City Attorney and the cases he filed and legal opinions he wrote that were in favor of LGBT rights and social justice.
When Alvarez and Agguire were done speaking the club went in to closed session to vote on endorsement.
Club rules require a 60 percent majority to endorse a candidate. The first round of ballots saw Alvarez receive 59.5 percent of the vote, and Fletcher 36 percent, with one vote for Coons, no votes for Agguire, and two votes to not make an endorsement at all.
Alvarez won the second round with 66 percent of the vote.