SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Kevin Faulconer is expected to be sworn in as San Diego's mayor March 3 after comfortably defeating City Council colleague David Alvarez in the special election to succeed the disgraced Bob Filner.
With all 582 precincts in Tuesday's election counted, Faulconer had 137,296 votes, or 54.5 percent, to 114,478, or 45.8 percent for Alvarez, according to results released by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.
Faulconer will serve the nearly three years remaining in the term of Filner, who was beset by scandal when he left office Aug. 30, barely nine months into his term. Faulconer, 46, will replace interim Mayor Todd Gloria.
"Together, you have sent a very strong message -- not only here in San Diego but throughout our region -- that this city is going to have an independent leader, this city is going to stand up and work together to bring us all together," Faulconer told jubilant supporters at the U.S. Grant Hotel.
Faulconer said he would continue fiscal reforms instituted by Jerry Sanders, Filner's predecessor, and plow the savings back into the city's neighborhoods.
"So tonight, our message to every single San Diego neighborhood, we will invest where we need to help," Faulconer said. "We will get our city back on track on the services that San Diegans expect, and that they deserve."
Alvarez, 33, thanked his supporters at an Election Night event at the San Diego Public Market and said the campaign came a long way in five months.
"In fact, a lot of people had no idea who David Alvarez was -- they know who David Alvarez is tonight," he said. "We have come really, really far."
Without mentioning his opponent by name, Alvarez said they would move the city forward because of their shared love for San Diego, without the campaign rhetoric of business against labor, or north of Interstate 8 versus south of I-8.
An Alvarez victory would have given San Diego its first Latino mayor and the second straight for Democrats in the traditionally conservative city. He picked up last-minute endorsements from fellow Democrats President Barack Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown. He was also supported by organized labor and other Democratic officials.
Faulconer opened with a 13 percentage point lead in the initial count of absentee ballots and only gave away a small portion of the margin as votes came in from the city's polling places. Most pre-election polls showed him either with a small lead or a statistical dead heat.
Faulconer, who is married and has two school-aged children, will give up his District 2 City Council seat when he is inaugurated, which will reduce the Republican minority from 5-4 to 5-3 on the technically nonpartisan body.
His replacement will be appointed by the City Council, and Gloria said last week a Democrat would be considered. Such an appointee would give the Democrats a veto-proof 6-3 edge.
Residents in Solana Beach also went to the polls Tuesday to decide whether special use permits should be issued for private events at the Fletcher Cove Community Center. The ballot measure was approved by 52-48 percent margin, 1,720 yes votes to 1,523 no votes.