Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer talks about run for governor, homelessness, Trump on “The Issue Is"

This week, Elex Michaelson is joined in-studio by Kevin Faulconer, the former San Diego Mayor now looking to unseat Governor Gavin Newsom in the upcoming recall.

The interview comes during a week in which Newsom traveled up-and-down California, celebrating the official reopening of the Golden State’s economy after nearly 15 months of lockdown.

Among the many topics that Faulconer and Michaelson discussed, were Faulconer’s plans for combating the state’s homeless crisis, his proposed income tax cut, his thoughts on the GOP Gubernatorial field, including John Cox and Caitlyn Jenner, and his connection to former President Donald Trump.

Also this week on The Issue Is, Michaelson is joined by Carla Marinucci and Jeremy B. White, both of Politico, to talk recalls, reopenings, and roller coasters.



BACKGROUND: This week, after some 15 months of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, California’s economy reopened. To celebrate the moment, Governor Gavin Newsom traversed the state, making pizzas, riding roller coasters at Six Flags, and posing with Minions and Transformers at Universal Studios.

FAULCONER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Look, I don’t think what Californians are looking for is a circus mentality. I think, you know, when it comes to overcoming COVID-19, it's not just about reopening, I think it's about reforming and rebuilding... That's why I'm focused a lot on particularly the rebuilding of our state, the rebuilding of our small businesses, and, you know, as we look at what happened with this Governor's unscientific lockdowns, how that really devastated our small businesses, as just one example, it's time to rebuild. It's time to be serious. That's why we're putting forward a lot of serious policy reforms that I think Californians of all persuasions, all walks of life, all party affiliations, they want to change at the top…"



BACKGROUND: Prior to the pandemic, California was home to some 161,000 homeless residents. That number has only increased over the past year. As Mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer banned sidewalk tent encampments, mandating that if shelters were built, they had to be used, ultimately seeing homelessness numbers in his city fall. Faulconer now looks to apply those policies at the statewide level.

FAULCONER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "We have to get people off the sidewalks. As mayor of San Diego I did not allow tent encampments in San Diego - we were the only big city where we actually reduced homelessness by double digits. I fundamentally believe that every human being has a right to shelter. I also believe that when we provide that shelter, we have an obligation to use it. I enforced that obligation in San Diego, and so we have to take that same approach, and I will as Governor… if you allow tent encampments on a sidewalk, you're condemning people to die on our sidewalks. We're better than that as Californians. We proved in San Diego that we could do it, again, actually reducing homeless, we have to take that same compassionate yet firm approach statewide…"



BACKGROUND: To date, one of the Newsom team’s main lines of attack against Faulconer has been his past support for President Trump, Newsom’s team frequently sharing a photo of Faulconer in the Oval Office with the 45th President. That, in a state which voted overwhelmingly against Trump in 2020. Michaelson asked Faulconer if he voted for the former President, and if he continues to support him.

FAULCONER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I did, and I felt strongly about it because of the economy... You could put up photos, there's photos of me with President Trump, there's photos of me and President Obama, and as you rightfully point out, my reputation is the guy that actually works, gets stuff done, among Democrats and Republicans. That's why I stress so much that this really isn't about partisanship, it's about leadership, and somebody who can get it done… I think what Californians are looking for is somebody who can come in and actually solve the issues that we're dealing with, not worrying about national rhetoric, but a guy that actually got it done in the second largest city in the state, who I said brought people together, and I think most importantly, actually got results, because that's what we're lacking right now out of this Governor in Sacramento…"



BACKGROUND: Among the policies Faulconer has proposed, is an elimination of the state income tax for individuals making $50,000 or less, and for households earning under $100,000. Following a decade in which California’s population growth began to slow, resulting in the state’s first loss of a Congressional seat, Faulconer hopes the economic relief will keep more Californians, and businesses, from leaving for other states.

FAULCONER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "People are voting with their feet. They're leaving California... because our state is too expensive... What I'm talking about is real, lasting tax relief for the middle class in California, who needs it. It's going to make a huge difference. This is not about a one time stimulus checks, this is about real relief for real California families.... I'm confident that Democrats, Republicans, and Independents believe, like I do, that if we don't lower the cost to actually live in California, we're going to continue to see an exodus of folks who want to stay here, but the policies that are coming out of Sacramento make it too, they can't afford it... You named the state where folks are going, right, Texas, Florida, Utah, Nevada, Tennessee, people are voting with their feet. We need to change that…"


The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to