Credit: Getty Images

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Kevin Faulconer is expected to be sworn in as San  Diego's mayor March 3 after comfortably defeating City Council colleague David  Alvarez in the special election to succeed the disgraced Bob Filner.

With all 582 precincts in Tuesday's election counted, Faulconer had  137,296 votes, 54.5 percent, to 114,478, 45.8 percent for Alvarez, according to  results released by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.

Faulconer will serve the nearly three years remaining in the term of  Filner, who was beset by scandal when he left office Aug. 30, barely nine  months into his term. Faulconer, 46, will replace interim Mayor Todd Gloria.

``Together, you have sent a very strong message -- not only here in San  Diego but throughout our region -- that this city is going to have an  independent leader, this city is going to stand up and work together to bring  us all together,'' Faulconer told jubilant supporters at the U.S. Grant Hotel.

Faulconer said he would continue fiscal reforms instituted by Jerry  Sanders, Filner's predecessor, and plow the savings back into the city's  neighborhoods.

``So tonight, our message to every single San Diego neighborhood, we  will invest where we need to help,'' Faulconer said. ``We will get our city  back on track on the services that San Diegans expect, and that they deserve.''

Alvarez, 33, thanked his supporters at an Election Night event at the  San Diego Public Market and said the campaign came a long way in five months.

``In fact, a lot of people had no idea who David Alvarez was -- they  know who David Alvarez is tonight,'' he said. ``We have come really, really  far.''

Without mentioning his opponent by name, Alvarez said they would move  the city forward because of their shared love for San Diego, without the  campaign rhetoric of business against labor, or north of Interstate 8 versus  south of I-8.

An Alvarez victory would have given San Diego its first Latino mayor and  the second straight for Democrats in the traditionally conservative city. He  picked up last-minute endorsements from fellow Democrats President Barack Obama  and Gov. Jerry Brown. He was also supported by organized labor and other  Democratic officials.

Faulconer opened with a 13 percentage point lead in the initial count of  absentee ballots and only gave away a small portion of the margin as votes  came in from the city's polling places. Most pre-election polls showed him  either with a small lead or a statistical dead heat.

Faulconer, who is married and has two school-aged children, will give up  his District 2 City Council seat when he is inaugurated, which will reduce  the Republican minority from 5-4 to 5-3 on the technically nonpartisan body.

His replacement will be appointed by the City Council, and Gloria said  last week a Democrat would be considered. Such an appointee would give the  Democrats a veto-proof 6-3 edge.

Residents in Solana Beach also went to the polls Tuesday to decide  whether special use permits should be issued for private events at the Fletcher  Cove Community Center. The ballot measure was approved by 52-48 percent margin,  1,720 yes votes to 1,523 no votes.