ENDORSEMENT: David Alvarez for State Assembly Special Election
We now know that the City of San Diego’s lease of a controversial downtown office tower was a huge mistake that could cost taxpayers over $200 million, but only one elected official tried to stop it before it happened back in 2016: David Alvarez.
Alvarez, who is running in the Special Election to replace retired Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, was on the San Diego City Council when the 101 Ash Street building deal came up for approval.
Even though everyone in the downtown power circles supported the proposed 20-year lease-to-own deal, only Alvarez raised questions about the agreement during a Council committee meeting.
Alvarez directly challenged the City’s plan to lease the building instead of buying it, confronting the staff who recommended a lease they knew would cost taxpayers $17 million more than if the City bought the building directly.
That was the turning point in the deal: Two high-ranking City staffers told Alvarez it was the best option, and a Deputy City Attorney cautioned Alvarez that there were legal risks involved in buying the building.
Over the past four years, we have come to find out that both of those statements were exaggerations, at best, if not flat out lies perpetuated by staff at the direction of then-Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the City Attorney’s office, respectively.
We now know that it was Mayor Faulconer who directed senior staffers to pursue a lease because he didn’t want to pay $25 million directly to one of the building’s sellers -campaign funder “Papa” Doug Manchester- and that City Attorney Mara Elliott has continued to manipulate investigations and negotiations aimed at covering up her own lack of due diligence before she signed the deal in December 2016.
Alvarez stands alone as the one public official who tried to warn the public that the fast-tracked acquisition of the 101 Ash building was a bad deal for taxpayers.
The list of those calpulable in the 101 Ash debacle is long, including Todd Gloria, Mara Elliott, Michael Zucchet, Kevin Faulconer, and Councilmembers who have allowed the coverup to continue.
David Alvarez stood up when no one else tried to protect taxpayers from corrupt insider trading.
Others should have listened to Alvarez, but no one did.
Challenging the bad building deal was consistent with David’s history as a champion for taxpayers and underserved communities that he now wants to continue in Sacramento.
Alvarez knows the importance of protecting our communities, as he did in pushing for a new Barrio Logan community plan that has now been approved after 43 years of neglect. Alvarez fought for removing polluting businesses from our neighborhoods, and has always been a champion for better educational opportunities for our children.
As a father of two young kids, Alvarez has fought to improve our communities by providing more parks, new libraries, and safer streets for families to raise their families. He supports pay increases for police officers, but also pushed for reforms to ensure transparent, fair, and equitable policing practices.
In his 15 years of government service, Alvarez has been a legislative staffer, a Councilman, and a representative on the San Diego Association of Governments SANDAG), the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), and the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority that runs our international airport. His experience and knowledge will help him be effective in fighting for our communities in Sacramento.
After his public service, David Alvarez launched his own consulting business called Causa Consulting to help organizations and businesses that share his values of making equity and justice a priority for all communities, and he has advocated for important issues at the Capitol in Sacramento, in Washington DC, and in Mexico.
David Alvarez has shown his commitment to building better and stronger communities, and he takes active roles in advancing the policies he supports.
For example, while many politicians claim they help make housing more affordable by supporting increased housing construction, Alvarez and his family are now building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) -a small separate living unit on his home property- to help add much needed affordable housing in the urban core of San Diego.
The Special Election will be on April 5th. Absentee ballots will be mailed this week and can be returned in person or by mail up until the election. Voting in person at polls will be held on April 5th.
Our vote is our voice. Please consider carefully who will best represent us and our communities.
We urge you to vote for David Alvarez for the 80th Assembly District Special Election.
Art Castanares purchased La Prensa five years ago and brings decades of experience in government and politics in his quest to find out what government officials and others are hiding from the public. Host of Behind the Curtain.