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Why Faulconer Was at the Bargaining Table

Councilman Kevin Faulconer is no longer the City Council president pro tem but he was invited to participate in the mediation process.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer isn’t a City Council officer but he joined Council President Todd Gloria at the negotiating table this week.

Faulconer and Gloria were the two City Council members invited to three mediation sessions led by retired federal Judge J. Lawrence Irving, who ultimately crafted a deal that may include Mayor Bob Filner’s resignation.

But why did Faulconer, and not the current City Council president pro-tem, Sherri Lightner, get the mediator’s ear? It’s likely his Republican clout.

(Quick background for non-policy wonks: The president pro-tem runs City Council meetings when the council president is absent.)

Faulconer, a seven-year councilman, is the senior Republican on the City Council. He’s frequently mentioned as a possible candidate to replace Filner, as is Gloria, a Democrat.

Faulconer has made concerted efforts to show his influence since December. The day before Filner’s swearing-in, the councilman wrote a U-T San Diego op-ed that listed his priorities for the mayor-elect. He’s since demanded Filner implement managed competition and emphasized his involvement in brokering five-year deals with city labor groups.

Council Republicans generally vote as a bloc, so City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, a former mayor himself, might have enlisted Faulconer to act as a voice for the GOP in mediation talks.

City attorney’s office spokesmen didn’t return calls Thursday but Matt Awbrey, Faulconer’s spokesman, didn’t deny the premise.

“Council member Faulconer has been around, been a member of the City Council for the longest period of time,” Awbrey said. “Having his opinions being expressed in mediation was helpful in reaching some sort of agreement.”

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