SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - She's considered the most recognizable face to now be in the San Diego mayoral race. Former State Assemblywoman Lori Saldana officially announced during a Thursday morning news conference that she'll challenge Mayor Kevin Faulconer in the June primary and also said that she has what it takes to defeat the incumbent.
"I keep my eyes on the prize which is San Diego, my hometown. Mr. Faulconer's eyes are on the eyes on another prize. He is becoming a Dean Spanos and will up and move to a bigger media market as soon as the opportunity arises,” said Saldana.
Saldana, 57, enters the race as an independent. She left the Democratic Party in 2014 following disputes with local leaders and a growing antipathy for party politics. She has gotten a late start against Mayor Faulconer who is a popular incumbent.
Faulconer has been all but unopposed since Gretchen Newsom, political director of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in San Diego, ended her campaign in early December for personal reasons.
Saldana has not raised any campaign money yet and will depend on a grass roots movement.
During the news conference, she also talked about her belief that Faulconer's vision for the city is too narrow, emphasizing that her focus is on income equality, affordable housing and strengthening San Diego's infrastructure, adding that there wasn’t enough done to prevent flood damage during the recent El Niño storms.
"Our infrastructure is not up to the current climate change issues and if this mayor thinks a cost benefit analysis is the answer, he is wrong,” continued Saldana.
Saldana signed a pledge saying if elected she'd stay in office all four years and urges Mayor Faulconer to do the same.
Saldana grew up in Clairemont and graduated from San Diego State University with both a bachelor's degree and master's degree. She also taught business information technology at her atalma mater, and coached basketball and field hockey at several schools. She served in the California State Assembly from 2004-2010.