SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Accompanied by his wife and two children, Kevin Faulconer was sworn in Monday as San Diego's 36th mayor.
Faulconer defeated fellow Councilman David Alvarez in the Feb. 11 runoff election in which voters chose the successor to Bob Filner, who resigned in disgrace Aug. 30 amid a sexual harassment scandal, barely nine months into his four-year term. In the interim, Council President Todd Gloria filled in.
Faulconer, 47, told a standing-room only crowd at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation that his inauguration starts a new chapter in the city's history -- "a chapter written by the people of San Diego."
"You sent a very clear message. You want a government that works for you. You want a City Hall that will continue the reforms that you voted for, reforms that will help create the city that we all deserve," Faulconer said in his inauguration speech.
Commenting on recent troubles at the San Diego Police Department, he said he would ensure trust and integrity in the city's law enforcement agency.
"Together, we will revitalize the department from the ground up," Faulconer said. "We will ensure the highest standards so we are keeping and attracting the best and brightest officers who will proudly and honorably serve the residents of our great city."
Last week, he named Assistant Chief Shelley Zimmerman as the successor to William Lansdowne, whose decade-long stint as SDPD chief ends Monday. The City Council is scheduled to vote on her nomination Tuesday.
"Shelley is the right woman at the right time," he said to cheers. "Not only will she become the first female police chief (in San Diego) but she will be one of the finest police chiefs this city has ever seen -- there is no doubt in my mind."
He also promised to boost morale on the force and give officers the support they need. The SDPD has seen an outflow of experienced officers to other agencies that provide higher take-home pay, though the City Council has recently taken steps to stem the tide.
Faulconer also pledged to pave 500 miles of the city's roadways, invest $900 million in neighborhood infrastructure over five years, and give area businesses the "certainty" they need in dealing with City Hall.
He started his speech by thanking his parents and Gloria.
Faulconer said he plans to meet with Tijuana Mayor Jorge Astiazaran this week.
The mayoral inauguration was the first in the city's history to take place in Southeast San Diego, according to the new mayor.
The race to replace Filner pitted labor against business, with Alvarez, a Democrat, supported by unions, and Faulconer, a Republican, garnering support from big businesses in San Diego for the nonpartisan post.
Upon his election win, Faulconer said he would continue fiscal reforms instituted by Jerry Sanders, Filner's predecessor, and plow the savings back into the city's neighborhoods.
The City Council must appoint a replacement in the next 30 days to serve out the remaining eight months or so of his term representing San Diego's beach and bay areas. That replacement is expected to be a Democrat, which would give Democrats a veto-proof 6-3 edge over Republicans until December.
City officials have said they won't appoint anyone who plans to run for the seat later this year.