Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, made a campaign stop at Black Bear Diner in Santa Clarita Saturday morning as part of his two-week bus tour across California leading up to the Sept. 14 gubernatorial recall election.
He shared his thoughts on affordability, homelessness, education, water, wildfires and safety in a 10-minute address to a packed room of approximately 70 people.
“We’re on the cusp of making our state … more affordable, more livable and a state that everyone can be a part of,” said Faulconer, who was in Bakersfield earlier that morning.
He said he’s seen and felt the enthusiasm to replace Gov. Gavin Newson, a Democrat.
“You have two great leaders right here who need some help and support, who need a governor who’s going to stand up and do the right things,” Faulconer said of Santa Clarita Republicans Sen. Scott Wilk, the Senate Republican leader, and Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares.
Both Wilk and Valladares have endorsed Faulconer for governor and introduced him during Saturday morning’s event.
Wilk said he and his Assembly colleague have a front-row seat to the last two weeks of the legislative session, when the Democratic-controlled Legislature will pass “everyday legislation that harms families, harms businesses, harms children.”
“I don’t want to burn the house down. I want to fix the house. I think Kevin Faulconer can fix the house,” Wilk said. “He served two terms (as) San Diego mayor – (the) eighth largest city in America – and managed it well with a majority Democrat council.”
“When he can work with a Democratic majority, he will, and when he has to stand up to them, he will,” Wilk said.
Valladares called the Sept. 14 election “the people’s recall” as she held the hand of her 4-year-old daughter.
“I care about California and I care about it because of her and the future we need to create now for her and the next generation of our families,” she said.
She said the state’s low-ranked K-12 education system and an affordability crisis are the result of a poor leadership by Newsom and legislative Democrats.
“Californians have had enough,” she said, noting that everyone knows someone who has moved out of California. “And that’s what this recall is all about.”
When Faulconer asked the audience for a show of hands around the question of knowing people who have left the state, nearly every hand in the room shot up.
He said California has become too expensive because Newsom “doesn’t seem to think that it’s a problem.”
“What I have put forward in our campaign is the largest middle class tax cut in California history,” Faulconer said.
On infrastructure, he said he paved half of the streets in San Diego during his eight years without having to raise taxes to pay for it.
Faulconer also said he did not allow homeless encampments on the sidewalks, which garnered the audience’s applause.
“It’s about priorities,” he said, discussing his record. “We care about people enough not to let them die on our sidewalks, our freeway underpasses (and) overpasses, our public spaces, our canyons.”
On public safety, Faulconer rejected defunding the police and said he invested in the budget of the San Diego Police Department.
“If we don’t have a safe state, we don’t have anything,” he said. “Leadership is about standing up.”
Faulconer had been running for governor in the 2022 election before the recall petition qualified for the ballot earlier this summer.
Stevenson Ranch resident Michelle Durrani and her husband and three young children were in the audience Saturday morning.
“We’re just looking to get to know the candidates,” she said, noting federal issues have been keeping her busy. “Definitely a lot of what’s happened during (the) COVID-19 (pandemic) are deciding factors.”
For Santa Clarita residents Hanan Haddad and her husband, gas taxes and homelessness rank high on their list of issues.
“We’ve been Republicans since we immigrated to California,” she said, noting she came to the United States in the 1970s. “We’d love to see a Republican state.”
Kevin Metros travelled with his dog to Santa Clarita from downtown Los Angeles to hear Faulconer speak.
He said called the gubernatorial candidate a “consensus builder” who can work with Democrats.
“I think we need a moderate centrist in office,” Metros said. “I feel like the state has been hijacked by the far left.”
Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda and Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency Board Director Bill Cooper were also present for the event.