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Students campaign for special mayoral election

The Nov. 19 special mayoral election to replace former San Diego mayor, Bob Filner, is fast approaching, and each candidate’s campaign staff is working hard to prepare.

Four front-runners have emerged from the field of 11 candidates: former State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, City Councilman David Alvarez, former City Attorney Mike Aguirre and City Councilman Kevin Faulconer. Of the four men, three are Democrats; only Faulconer is running as a Republican.

Justin Vos, president of the PLNU College Republicans Club, said that PLNU students are making a big impact on Councilman Kevin Faulconer’s campaign. Faulconer has three paid staff members and seven interns from PLNU, in addition to occasional volunteers.

“We have a pretty good showing,” said Vos. “I think almost one fourth of [Faulconer’s] campaign staff are Point Loma students. It’s pretty crazy to think about that.”

Senior Davis Newton spends his weekends performing a number of tasks for Faulconer’s campaign. The business major said he spends time walking around different San Diego neighborhoods and making phone calls in order to meet with and talk to voters about the campaign.

“It’s great speaking to different people and listening to their comments and concerns,” said Newton in an email. “And any feedback I get from voters, I make a note of, and relay the information to Kevin.”

Kris Ashton, another PLNU senior who works on Faulconer’s staff, said the opportunity also provided him with valuable political experience.

“I was thrilled to get involved in the campaign because I knew would be a great learning experience,” said Ashton via email. “I really wanted to see how the process worked, and I knew it wouldn’t hurt to put on the résumé.”

Several PLNU students are contributing to Democrat David Alvarez’s campaign, who was officially endorsed by the San Diego Democratic Party. The PLNU College Democrats have also thrown their support behind Alvarez, according to Club President Jacob Schultz. Schultz said there are two working officially on Alvarez’s campaign.

PLNU senior Kayla Cook has spent a lot of time working the phone lines to reach out to voters for Alvarez’s campaign.

“It’s always an exhilarating experience to know that you’ve been a part of making history, no matter how small or incremental,” said Cook via email. “I love talking with people on the phone and hearing what they think about our current political climate.”

Cook, a political science major, also said the experience has taught her about more than just the political process.

“I’ve learned quite a bit of patience,” said Cook. “Phone banking can be trying at times. People don’t want to talk about politics oftentimes, it’s kind of taboo. Or they don’t know enough about it and their embarrassed to discuss that over the phone. I totally understand.”

Recent alumni have also been contributing to the various campaigns. Ben Carney, a 2013 graduate, began interning for Alvarez this past summer and currently runs most of the campaign’s volunteer field operations.

Carney said he often spends 14 to 16 hours a day every day working for the campaign. He mainly focuses on organizing walks around the city, called “precinct walks,” for volunteers to go door-to-door speaking with voters.

However, Carney says his job changes almost every day.

“The thing about campaigns is that you wear many different hats,” said Carney. “You do a lot of things wherever there’s the need.”

All over the city, PLNU students are working diligently to educate voters about the election and make sure their respective campaigns run smoothly. Ashton said the campaign has taught him many lessons about the political process and helped him sort out his own beliefs.

“From this experience I have definitely learned more about San Diego’s political arena and issues than I ever knew in the past,” said Ashton. “I have identified more with what my own values and political ideas are as well… I am really glad I chose to get involved in this upcoming special election.”