By Dr. John E. Warren
There is much to be learned from the general media attitudes and comments as well as the candidates on the special election for San Diego’s new Mayor held on February 11, 2014. First, there were basically no comments by media analysts on the Black vote. The discussions focused on the “Republican”, “Labor” and “Latino” voter participation or the lack thereof in the case of the expected Latino voter turnout for David Alvarez. Question, was this because there was an assumption that Labor and the Democratic Party had the Black vote so tied up that there was no need to talk about it? Not all African Americans are Democrats, and some African Americans as Independent and Republican voters did vote for Faulconer because they felt he reflected their interest. There were Latinos who clearly stated that they were and did vote for Faulconer because he represented their interest.
African Americans should not be mad at the media, but should learn from what just happened. Mayor-elect Faulconer had strong African American support, especially among members of the Clergy. In spite of issues of his past votes raised by the opposition, his appeal for inclusion connected and the early insight into his transition team displays that inclusiveness.
Alvarez on the other hand, would not have done as well as he did if it had not been for the African Americans campaigning on his behalf. It is very interesting that Alvarez in his speech on election night before his supporters, acknowledged Assemblywoman Tony Atkins who becomes the next Speaker of the Assembly and Interim Mayor/Council President Todd Gloria who endorsed him, but failed to mention Assemblywoman Shirley Weber who not only did television commercials, but also knocked on doors and used her political capital to get out the vote for him. For Alvarez, the question is how inclusive will he be going forward? Will he hire an African American for his District Office Staff since African Americans do live in his District? It should be noted that Assemblywoman Weber and City Council Member Cole both have Latinos on their staffs as did Councilmen Tony Young, Charles Lewis and Rev. George Stevens. The African American presence on the staffs of the Latino members of the community must be as important to them as their presence is on the staffs of our African American elected officials.
Organizations like BAPAC and the Martin Luther King Jr. Political Club must increase the focus of not only supporting voter registration, but also monitoring and holding accountable those persons who hold office in this an election year for some who too often get by without so much as a nod to our community.