Photo: Mayor Bill Wells celebrates victory with suporters; photo by Randy Jordan, R. Jordan Photgraphy
By Miriam Raftery and Janis Russell
November 5, 2014 (El Cajon) -- Mayor Bill Wells thumped two opponents to win 81.6% of the vote, winning reelection handily over Allen Theweny and Jonathan Wright. Councilman Gary Kendrick took over two-thirds of the vote (64.14%) over his opponent, Elwood Alexander.
The incumbents had the benefit of an improving economy and new policies such as the city's outreach to car dealers to bring more revenues to El Cajon, a city with the county's highest poverty rate. El Cajon's leaders have also had success in healing relations with the city's large Iraqi Chaldean population, with Mayor Wells speaking out publicly in support of bringing persecuted Christian Chaldean refugees to El Cajon.
Relations with the Chaldean community grew strained under former Mayor Mark Lewis after remarks interpreted as racially charged were widely publicized. Mayor Lewis stepped down soon after, citing health reasons.
El Cajon has also brought back the spirit of its former Friendship Festival, launching America on Main Street this year to celebrate multiculturalism as well the City's historical heritage.
None of the challengers proved to be formidable in this election, enabling incumbents to sail to easy victories despite recent controversies over votes to restrict sales of alcohol and e-cigarettes, and regulate hookah bars. Kendrick led efforts to pass the deemed approved ordinance limiting single-sales of alcohol in an effort to crack down on serial inebriates, but the measure faced opposition from the Neighborhood Market Association, which represents primarily Chaldean merchants.
A proposal to raise revenues by leasing the East County Performing Arts Center to the Rock Church for a significant number of days each year also drew controversy and threat of a legal challenge.