By Miriam Raftery
November 3, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) –Labor was the winner in the Lakeside Fire Protection District, where two of three firefighters' union-backed candidates won over a large slate of challengers. Incumbent Pete Liebig, a retired firefighter, held onto his seat with the highest vote tally, weathering controversies over the firing of Chief Mark Baker. Challenger Susan Conniry, a Cedar Fire survivor and former Santee Planning Commissioner also backed by the union, won as well. The third winner was Jon Lorenz, a Tea Party-backed candidate, picked up the two open seats.
“We were outspent by the union 35 to one,” said Milt Cyphert, who runs a union shop at his heating and air conditioning shop and has taught apprenticeship courses for unions. He ran for the seat out of concern for the community after Baker’s following, which he believed was done in a non-transparent manner with reasons never explained to community members.
Baker’s reputation remains untarnished with Lakeside voters, who elected him to the Lakeside Planning Commission. Other winners in the Planning Commission race are Chad Ennis, Laura Cyphert, Jeffrey Brust, Anton Botter, Glenn Inverso, and Julie Bugbee. Commissioners Emad Bakeer and Thomas Medvitz lost their reelection bids in a rare upset of incumbents.
In the hotly contested San Miguel Fire District, only one of three union-backed candidates, Jeff Nelson, won. Incumbents Rick Augustine and Chris Winter, both fiscal conservatives, won reelection. Winter is a career firefighter who was not endorsed by the firefighters’ union due to taking a stance against the union on some issues in the District, which faces a large deficit and recently closed down an engine company.
DeAna Verbeke won reelection handily in the Helix Water District.
In the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, district manager Doug Wilson beat out incumbent Jim Maletec in seat 1. Incumbent Bill Pommering won reelection in seat 3. But in seat 5, Jim Peasley , the water resources engineer at Otay Water District, ousted incumbent Dan McMillan by a razor-thin 50.76% to 49.24% margin.
Peasley’s candidacy was boosted by a last-minute independent mailer paid for by the Viejas and Sycuan Indians. Though the mailer urged voters to support Peasley if they were tired of high water rates, the tribes backed Peasley as well as Maletec for their stances on a Lakeside water project where a Native American sacred burial ground was found. Attorney General Jerry Brown sued the Padre water district and a court ordered the district to halt construction and desecration of Native American graves.
On the Campo/Lake Moreno Planning Group, Richard Northcote won reelection; other winners were Jack White, Walter ‘Jock’ Ogle, and Robert K. Hume.
For a complete list of all special district and board election outcomes in San Diego County, visit http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/voters/results/transform.htm?paramVal1=electi... and click on special districts on the left side. Outcomes for all other local races can also be found on this page at the Registrar of Voters site.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that all three winners in Lakeside were backed by the firefighters' union. In fact, Jon Lorenz was not. We regret the error.