Barrio Logan is David Alvarez territory.

Alvarez grew up in this neighborhood, the son of working-class Mexican immigrants. He breathed the exhaust from a nearby chrome-plating shop, pollution that he says gave him asthma. His father worked as a janitor just down the street at the Barrio Community Center.

He’s focused much of his campaign on the idea that he’s lived the problems he wants to fix, and it’s a message that seems to have resonated with voters here.

“(Alvarez) grew up with my son,” Barrio Logan’s Pilar Amaya said in Spanish. “I trust him. If someone isn’t from here, how can we trust him to solve our problems?” For Amaya, those problems grow from the fact that Barrio Logan is at once a neighborhood and an industrial center. Chemicals waft into the neighborhood, he said, and rain down onto cars.

“He’s our boy from the community,” said Barrio Logan resident Mercedes Pacheco. “We have to support him.”

Pacheco and her sister, Ana Rosa Castro, are both from Barrio Logan and each cast a vote for Alvarez. He cares about, education, transportation and looking for a solution to the community’s problems, they agreed.

There’s “mucho homeless” here, Pacheco said, and the city needs someone who cares enough to do something.

Still, as much as Pacheco supports Alvarez, she’s resigned to the fact that he might fall short in this year’s election. “He’s still too young,” Pacheco said.

That he might not be ready to lead the nation’s eighth largest city is a notion shared by even those who applaud Alvarez for his work and dedication.

In Alvarez’ stomping grounds, some still see other candidates as more prepared for leadership.

Michael Ward said he simply likes what he sees in Kevin Faulconer.

“I agreed with a lot of what all the candidates said,” said Ward, “but I agreed with Faulconer most often.”

Ward likes Falconer’s commitment to protecting beaches, and said he’d be most supportive of the education system. The fact that the American Federation of Teachers endorses Alvarez “doesn’t mean much to me,” he said. Endorsing candidates is common, he said, but that doesn’t mean the candidate delivers.

As with any election, some folks were influenced not only by the candidates’ policies, but by the candidates themselves.

Ruth Walker, a 70-year-old Barrio Logan resident, said she chose Alvarez because she’s liked his work on the City Council and because he’s the most likely to fix the streets and sidewalks in her neighborhood. At her age, she said, she doesn’t need to trip over a cracked sidewalk. Still, Alvarez barely won out for Walker.

“I almost went with Fletcher,” she said. “Just because he’s so fine and sexy.”

Out of the dozen or so voters I talked to, Walker was the only one who said the debacle over disgraced former-mayor Bob Filner had any bearing on her decision. “And I voted for Filner, too,” she said. “But I didn’t know he was going to disrespect women. Before I voted today, I just prayed, ‘Good Lord, don’t let me put another Filner in office.’”

Adrian Delgado said that for too long Barrio Logan has been a neglected neighborhood, and it’s time for a change.

“They assume everyone in this neighborhood is illegal, and it’s written off.”

He said area streets, parks and classrooms are all suffering. Police and emergency responders take too long to respond to incidents. And Alvarez, “as a member of this community,” would be the most likely person pay the neighborhood “the attention it deserves,” he said.

    This article relates to: Barrio Logan, David Alvarez, Kevin Faulconer, Mayoral Candidates 2014, Mayoral Election Issues 2014, Nathan Fletcher, News, Politics, Share, Special Mayoral Election 2014

    Written by Mario Koran

    Mario is an investigative reporter focused on immigration, border and related criminal justice issues. Reach him directly at 619.325.0531, or by email: