San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has made a big priority of tackling infrastructure issues.
But his two main re-election challengers aren't impressed with the results, and hope he can be forced into a November runoff.
Ed Harris and Lori Saldana have been bashing the incumbent over emergency dispatch delays and police retention issues.
Faulconer's financial team is pointing to major troves of money freed up for neighborhood improvement projects citywide.
One that got particular attention during Monday morning’s special meeting of the City Council’s Infrastructure Committee is a funky athletic complex in Kearny Mesa.
“The dust is so thick, and of course that's getting on everything everywhere -- and some people don't even like parking in here,” says Steve Hartman, turf manager for Hickman Field Park.
Hartman is one of many volunteers who look after the park’s baseball and soccer fields, with the city covering no expenses except for water.
That's due to change before long, as bureaucratic reforms that Faulconer is touting have produced upwards of $130 million in "savings and efficiencies" over the past year.
So Hartman was pleased to learn that Hickman Field is now in the spotlight, with city officials talking up the need for real restrooms to replace Porta Potties, and numerous other amenities.
“Just getting paving, that alone (is important), and all the infrastructure that has not been here,” Hartman told NBC 7.
Right now, substandard city streets are being re-surfaced at the rate of 300 miles a year.
But the mayor's opponents say much of the work is mostly superficial, and far behind the curve of nearly $2 billion worth of deferred maintenance and construction.
“Kevin is part of the national problem that we see, bureaucrats wanting to go somewhere else; they're not solving problems,” said Harris, a former interim council member and longtime leader of the city’s lifeguards union. “ The fact that's he's pulling a rabbit out of the hat two weeks before an election shows you that he's covering for what he hasn't done."
NBC 7 reached out Monday to the Faulconer's aides, but they didn’t offer an opportunity to get his view of things.
His other main rival, Lori Saldana, referred to him with the phrase "political expediency", and added these observations in a statement to NBC 7: “Many of these issues would not have been on the public radar without re-election challengers to peek beind the thick, expensive wall of mayor public information officers. Reallocating a few of those PIO salaries would also be a good step.
In response, Francis Barraza, Faulconer’s campaign manager, shot back with this statement: "Just look at the numbers. Mayor Faulconer has doubled infrastructure funding and nearly tripled road repair funding since he took office. Infrastructure investments are at the highest level of the decade. In contrast, Mayor Faulconer's opponents have offered no concrete plans or solutions."