By Miriam Raftery
November 9, 2016 (El Cajon) – With 43.6% of precincts counted, a 10-candidate race for El Cajon City Council is still too close to call. There are three seats up—and currently, two challengers have edged ahead of incumbent Star Bales.
However voters handily approved Measure S, the redistricting proposal to establish district elections. Measure S has nearly 69% of the vote with 43.6% of precincts counted.
Councilman Bob McClellan is on top with 14.87% (3,000 votes). In second place with 13.29% (2682 votes) is Ben Kalasho, a Democrat and president of the Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce. If he wins, he will be the first Democrat in recent memory to serve on the all-Republican Council. In third place is Steve Goble, senior vice president at Postal Annex and a long-time community volunteer.
Councilwoman Bales, who is also Chaldean, is in fourth place, with 11.64% of the vote, followed by Stephanie Harper with 9,5%, Paul Circo at 9.11%, Vickie Butcher 9.0%, Humbert Cabrera 7.56%, George Glover 6.12%, and Joseph Fountain 6%.
A win for Kalasho and Goble could mean an end to the control long exerted by the Lincoln Club, a conservative business PAC that endorsed and heavily promoted McClellan, Bales and Circo,though it appears two of those candidates may lose by narrow margins. The Republican Party also backed these three candidates.
The race’s outcome may bolster future efforts by Democrats, following Kalasho’s likely win and respectable showings by Harper and Butcher, the other party-backed candidates. The city is now a majority of ethnic and racial minorities with registration trending Democratic.