Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

Update November 9, 2020: Metschel has opened a lead of 57 votes. Letitia Dickerson has pulled into second place,with Stephanie Harper just 13 votes behind Dickerson


By Briana Gomez

Miriam Raftery and Jonathan Goetz also contributed to this story

Photo, Michelle Metschel (Left) and Stephanie Harper (Right)

November 4, 2020 (El Cajon) – Demonstrating that every vote counts, the top two candidates in El Cajon’s City Council District 2 were tied at 936 votes each through most of the night. This morning, Michelle Metschel has nosed ahead by a slim 44 vote margin (1,061 to 1,017) in a race that’s still far too close to call at 21.1% to 20.23%. A close third is Letitia Dickerson with 19.81 percent of votes.


Photo, right: Letitia Dickerson

Metschel hails from a defense administrative background while Harper is a relief care worker. Harper was endorsed by the Democratic Party. Metschel was endorsed by Mayor Bill Wells, as well as by the city’s police and firefighting unions. The Republican party made no endorsement in the race, which had several Republicans running.

Both candidates have pledged to make addressing homeless a top issue and have been advocates for the homeless. Metschel has previously been homeless herself. Public safety is also a key issue for her. Harper has sought to provide more protections for renters to prevent them from becoming homeless. Read more about the candidates’ views:

**In District 3** Steve Goble ran unchallenged to win reelection.

**District 4** incumbent Phil Ortiz, endorsed by the Republican party, has won election with 46.43% of the vote. The opposition was splintered, with Estela De Los Rios, a fair housing advocate who holds the Democratic endorsement, in second place with 23.51%. Dunia Shaba, a professor the only Middle Eastern candidate in the race, rounded out third place with 19.37%. El Cajon is an area with a large population of Iraqi, Syrian, and other Middle Eastern immigrants. Billy Thigpen, who withdrew and endorsed De Los Rios, still pulled 10.77% of votes.

Watch East County Magazine candidate forums in District 2 here, and in District 4, here.

“I’m overwhelmed with the response, I think that my message that I was getting to votes is one of good government,” Ortiz told East County Magazine.

Ortiz grew up in East County, where he is a business owner and board member of the East County Chamber of Commerce. He was appointed to the Council to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Ben Kalasho.

Ortiz ran on the platforms of public safety, homelessness, and financial stability.

Photo, left: Ortiz and his son, Wesley Joseph, on Halloween

Ortiz and his wife spent their election night inside with the wife and two small children. Once the children were asleep, Ortiz and his wife focused on the results.

“It was like being a game show winner,” said Ortiz, noting that due to the early-ballots, many of the votes in his district had already been cast and counted, giving him the preponderance of voters in his community.

“I’m looking forward to going to work and to continuing to help the citizens,” Ortiz concluded.

Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.