Politics

TOM METZGER DIES AT 82; NOTORIOUS KKK BOSS; SUPREMACIST WHO RAN FOR CONGRESS

By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  Tom Metzger moved from Fallbrook to northern Indiana in 2006 but later returned to Southern California. Photo via splcenter.org

November 10, 2020 (San Diego) - Tom Metzger, one of the nation’s most notorious white supremacists and anti-Semites, has died, according to a post on his White Aryan Resistance website. He was 82. 


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HELIX WATER DISTRICT INCUMBENTS ALL WIN RE-ELECTION AFTER DISTRICT DELAYS RATE INCREASE DUE TO COVID-19

By Jonathan Goetz 
 
Photos (L – R): McMillan, Scalzitti & Gracyk (source: Helix Water District)
 
November 9, 2020 (La Mesa) – Directors Dan McMillan, Joel Scalzitti and Mark Gracyk will all return to the Helix Water District Board, after voters rewarded the incumbents for delaying rate increases due to COVID-19, when many ratepayers are struggling financially. Instead, Helix is dipping into its reserves.
 
McMillan defeated Doug Sterling with 75% of the vote.  Scalzitti took 57% of the vote in a four-candidate race, topping Vickie Knight Butcher who got 27%, Lu Tejeda 12%, and Tyler Logan 4%. Gracyk ran unopposed. 

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SOME EAST COUNTY RACES FLIP, OTHERS TIGHTEN IN LATEST ELECTION RETURNS

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photos by Erik Herrara:  poll worker wears protective gear during pandemic; voters head to poll on Election Day in Santee.
 
November 9, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Amid a pandemic, 80.7% of registered voters in San Diego County have cast ballots. Of more than 1.9  million registered voters, over 1.5 million have voted – and more than 1.4 million of those opted to vote by mail.  Only a little over 166,000 voted at the polls.

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ISSA DECLARES VICTORY, CAMPA-NAJJAR CONCEDES IN HARD-FOUGHT 50TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT RACE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Darrell Issa announcing his candidacy at an El Cajon press conference earlier this year.

November 8, 2020 (San Diego) – Former Congressman Darrell Issa will return to Congress, where he served for 18 years.  Issa, a Republican, declared victory in the 50th Congressional district race after the Associated Press projected that he has won the race. He currently leads 53.7% to 46.3%, a margin of 22,470 votes, according to the California Secretary of State’s website.  His opponent, Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar posted on Facebook that he has called to congratulate Issa.

Unlike the Presidential race, in which Donald Trump has yet to concede, both Issa and Campa-Najjar sought to put a sometimes bitter campaign behind them and offer praise for each other to unite the district.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Issa thanked all voters as well as his supporters and volunteers.  “Whether you supported me in this election or not, I will work tirelessly in Congress for all who call the 50th District their home, for the State of California which I love so much, and for our great country.”  Issa thanked his opponent for a “spirit campaign” adding “I wish him the best moving forward.” He praised his endorsers and primary opponents, adding, “I hope to continue to work with all of you for the betterment of our community.”


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CAMPAIGNING AMID A PANDEMIC: LEADING COUNCIL CANDIDATES SHARE EXPERIENCES AND GOALS

View the interview at https://youtu.be/4zjc_ssHY8g

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Former Lemon Grove Councilman George Gastil is poised to regain his seat.

November 7, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Who are the potential newest faces on East County City Councils—and what was it like to campaign amid a pandemic?

ECM invited all non-incumbents leading in East County City Council races as of November 5 for a Zoom interview to share secrets of their apparent successes and what they hope to accomplish if they win their elections to become the newcomers on local councils.


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BIDEN WINS PRESIDENTIAL RACE OVER TRUMP, ALL MAJOR NETWORKS REPORT

By Miriam Raftery

November 7, 2020 (San Diego) – All major TV networks including Fox, CNN, CBS and NBC as well as the Associated Press today declared former Vice President Joe Biden the winner in the 2020 presidential election. The announcement came after Biden took a decisive lead in Pennsylvania, Biden’s birthplace. Biden and his  Vice President-elect, California Senator Kamala Harris, have captured at least 290 electoral votes – substantially more than the 270 needed for victory, with not enough uncounted votes remaining to change the outcome.

Biden also leads in three remaining swing states as the final ballots are being tallied:  Nevada and two formerly conservative strongholds: Arizona and Georgia in the heart of Dixie and the Congressional district formerly represented by the late civil rights leader John Lewis.  In Arizona, the Navajo nation, which has had among the highest rate of COVID-19 deaths in the nation, had a 97% turnout rate and more than 97% cast votes for Biden.

He received more votes than any other presidential candidate in U.S. history – 74.5 million votes, surpassing Trump by over 4 million votes. In the end, Biden held onto every state won by Hilary Clinton in 2016, also regaining the rust let states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania while flipping some long-term red states blue, if his leads hold in the final states tallying votes. Trump, by contrast, did not flip a single state from blue to red.

Trump defiantly refused to concede the election and pledged to start “prosecuting our case in court" though legal experts thus far report such efforts appear to be long shots.


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NEWSOM'S PICK? HERE'S WHO MIGHT FILL KAMALA HARRIS' SENATE SEAT

By Ben Christopher, CalMatters

CalMatters is an independent public interest journalism venture covering California state politics and government.

Photo:  Then Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris walks on stage during a gun safety forum, Oct. 2, 2019, in Las Vegas. Today, Joe Biden announced Sen. Harris as his running mate. Photo by John Locher, AP Photo

November 7, 2020 (Sacramento) - The victory of Joe Biden and California’s junior senator, Kamala Harris in the 2020 presidential race brings to a close one of the most protracted post-Election Day waiting games in modern political history. It also opens up a relatively rare thing in the Golden State: the prospect of an open Senate seat.


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HOME STATE ADVANTAGE: WHAT A VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS MEANS FOR CALIFORNIA

By Laurel Rosenhall, CalMatters

CalMatters is an independent public interest journalism venture covering California state politics and government.

Photo:  President-elect Joe Biden arrives with his running mate, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to speak in Wilmington, Deleware, on the evening before the Associated Press called the race for them. Her role is likely to be an asset for her home state of California. Photo by Carolyn Kaster, AP Photo

November 7, 2020 (Sacramento) - Goodbye, state of resistance. Hello, state of influence. 

California’s status has shifted dramatically with the election of Joe Biden as the next president. The reasons are both political—deep blue California will have more inroads to a White House controlled by Democrats—and personal: For just the second time in American history, a Californian will serve as vice president. 

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CALIFORNIANS WAIVE LABOR LAW FOR UBER AND LYFT; KEEP CASH BAIL AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION BAN; PROP AND HOT RACE CALLS

By Ben Christopher, CalMatters 

CalMatters is an independent public interest journalism venture covering California state politics and government.

Photo:  Volunteer poll worker David Saunders helps a voter at a Los Angeles Elementary School polling place on Election Day. Early California results provided some answers but remaining questions. Photo by Tash Kimmell for CalMatters

November 7, 2020 (Sacramento) - California’s app-based corporate luminaries such as Uber and Lyft just waged the most expensive state ballot measure campaign in U.S. history—and it paid off big time, allowing those companies to thwart the will of all three branches of California government. 


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SAN DIEGO ACTIVISTS RALLY TO COUNT EVERY VOTE

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Erik Herrara

November 5, 2020 (San Diego) – Yesterday, the day after the presidential election, the San Diego March for Democracy Coalition held a press conference and “Count Every Vote” car caravan through local communities.  The action was called to protest President Donald Trump’s premature victory claim and demand for vote counting to stop.

In the early hours after Election Day, when no media outlets had declared a winner and with millions of votes yet to be counted in key battleground states, Trump stated, “We want all the voting to stop.”  The votes being counted were cast legally on or before election day.

CNN labeled Trump’s premature victory claim and demand to stop vote counting as “false, authoritarian and undemocratic.” Many Republican leaders have also denounced the President’s actions.

Biden, by contrast, has said he believes he will win but has urged that every vote be counted.


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METSCHEL AND HARPER IN NEAR DEAD-HEAT FOR EL CAJON COUNCIL DISTRICT 2; ORTIZ WINNING ELECTION HANDILY IN DISTRICT 4

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.

 


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WELCOME TO A DEM-CONTROLLED COUNTY

Democrats appear to have taken control of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors for the first time in at least a generation. But that doesn’t mean they’ll automatically agree on what to prioritize, or how to go about it.

By Jesse Marx and Maya Srikrishnan, Voice of San Diego

Photo:  from left: Democrats Terra Lawson-Remer, Nathan Fletcher and Nora Vargas / Photos by Adriana Heldiz

November 4, 2020 (San Diego) - Democrats appear to have taken control of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors for the first time in at least a generation.


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UPSET HAPPENING IN PADRE DAM WATER DISTRICT RACE

By Mike Allen

If voting trends continue, the Padre Dam Municipal Water District will see a new face on its five-member board.

Teacher Suzanne Till was leading longtime incumbent Augie Scalzitti by a 48 to 31 percent margin as of the latest tally from the county’s Registrar of Voters early Nov.4.

James Sly, chief operating officer at the East County Economic Development Council, was third at 20 percent of the vote.

The race was in the No. 2 Division. In Division 4, Augie Caires was unopposed and will win his third term on the board. He served as the district’s CEO for 13 years.


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MINTO, HURST TAKE SLIM LEADS IN SANTEE; MEASURE N BARELY PASSING

 

Update Noveber 9, 2020:  Dustin Trotter has pulled ahead of Samm Hurst by a slim 14 vote margin, with more votes remaining to be tallied. See all current results at SDVote.com.

Term limits win approval; Assemblyman Voepel is reelected

By Mike Allen

November 4, 2020 (Santee) -- With about 64 percent of the vote tallied as of early Nov. 4, Mayor John Minto was leading challenger Councilman Stephen Houlahan in the Santee mayoral race.

Minto, who was elected mayor in 2016, has 53 percent of the vote to Houlahan’s 47 percent. Minto was out campaigning late on Election Day, and said he felt confident about his prospects to retain the mayor’s job.

In District 4, Samm Hurst, a UCSD professor, held a 4 percentage lead over Dustin Trotter, a contractor. The vote separation as of the latest tally totaled only 246.

Houlahan and Hurst ran on a platform that included opposition to Fanita Ranch, the controversial housing project which Minto voted to approve just weeks before the election. The project has long divided the community in a battle that has spanned 20 years.


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ELECTION NIGHT SPECIAL REPORT

 

November 4, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -- Video is now posted of East County Magazine's November 3, 2020 Election NIght special report. Our reporting team provided early results and analysis of East County  Congressional, supervisorial, city council, mayoral and school board races as well as ballot measures and other key contests.

We also interviewed Ammar Campa-Najjar, who at the time was leading in the 50th Congressional district race which later flipped to Darrell Issa. 

View video of our coverage:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brBi8ReloI0&feature=youtu.be


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PRESIDENTIAL RACE STILL TOO CLOSE TO CALL

Trump calls for counting of legally-cast ballots to stop;  Biden takes slim lead overnight in two key battleground states.  Both candidates retain paths to victory.

By Miriam Raftery

November 4, 2020 (San Diego) – With millions of votes remaining to be counted in key battleground states, both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden retain potential paths to victory.  Though some predicted a blue wave, the end result is a nail-biter in which neither candidate appears to have an overwhelming mandate from voters.

As of this morning, Biden has 227 electoral votes and Trump 213, as both edge closer to the 270 needed for victory. 


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CITY OF SAN DIEGO EARLY RETURNS: GLORIA AHEAD IN MAYORAL RACE

Update November 9, 2020:  Barbara Bry has conceded the race to Todd Gloria.

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Photos: Barbara Bry (left, twitter profile picture), Todd Gloria (right, wikipedia profile picture)

Nov. 3, 2020 (San Diego) – Two democrats vied for the position of San Diego Mayor: Todd Gloria and Barbara Bry. Gloria, as of election night, has a sizable lead, with 56.29% of the vote over Bry at 43.71%.

Both gave election night speeches. Bry spoke earlier in the evening and thanked supporters of this “independent woman.”

Gloria, a third generation San Diego resident, talked about “breaking barriers.” If he prevails, which appears likely as of election night, he will be the first openly LGBTQI, first Filipino, elected Mayor of San Diego, and first Latino/Native American in recent memory.

Mara Elliott has a substantial lead over candidate Cory Briggs. She had 67.59% of the vote over Briggs, 32.41%, in the race for San Diego City Attorney.

The five odd numbered City Council seats 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9, in the City of San Diego, were up for election.


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PARENT, SHU LEAD IN LA MESA CITY COUNCIL RACE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: left to right: Allan Durden, Colin Parent, Mark Papenfuss, Kristine Alessio, Jack Shu, Laura Lothian

November 3, 2020 (La Mesa) – Councilman Colin Parent and Jack Shu, both endorsed by the Democratic Party, are leading in the La Mesa City Council race with 25.15% and 24.76% respectively in a field of six candidates with two seats up for grabs.  If the current lead holds, incumbent Kristine Alessio may lose her seat.

While some feared an anti-incumbent backlash in the wake of the May 30 riot, that does not appear to have impacted the leaders in this race.  However, both Parent and Shu supported formation of La Mesa’s Citizens Police Oversight Board and a citizens advisory committee on homelessness. Parent appears to have weathered controversy over developer donations over a proposed homeless shelter that was later withdrawn by the county. 

Shu told ECM, ""The early results look very good but I'm waiting for more ballots to be counted before presuming anything.  However, there is a clear message that La Mesa is ready for positive change. I'd like to thank the community for the tremendous outpouring of support we've received and my campaign team and volunteers who did a phenomenal job."


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EARLY BELL RINGS IN EAST COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD RACES

By Robin N. Kendall

Photo via Bing

November 3, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) — It has been a topsy turvy year for everyone, especially for the area’s school children. Voters weighed enthusiasm, experience and ethics as they chose the next crew of school board trustees, who ultimately will help steer schools out of the rough seas of this quarantine.

On election night, as of early returns at 10:30 p.m., here are our observations.


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VAUS AND ANDERSON IN TIGHT RACE FOR SUPERVISOR DISTRICT 2

By Henri Migala

Photo: Steve Vaus (left), Joel Anderson (right)

November 3, 2020 (San Diego's East County) - County Supervisor District 2 candidates Steve Vaus and Joel Anderson are virtually tied at the latest update provided by the San Diego Registrar of Voters unofficial election results.

At the latest update, posted at 10:26 p.m., Steve Vaus held a slight lead with 50.94% of the votes, and Joel Anderson having 49.06%.

Vaus and Anderson are running to fill the seat being vacated by Dianne Jacob due to term limits.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors controls a $5 billion budget and makes decision over a wide variety of social service programs, and on issues affecting your health and safety. Four billion, or 80%, of that budget is related to state and federal programs the county is required to administer, and one billion, or 20%, can be used for the Supervisors to establish their priorities.  Most of the $1 billion comes from local property taxes, so it is important for local citizens to know the supervisors’ priorities.


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50TH DISTRICT RACE WITH CAMPA-NAJJAR, ISSA TOO CLOSE TO CALL

Update 11:30 p.m.: Darrell Issa has taken the lead with 60.7% of votes tallied.  In San Diego County, Issa has 51.8% or 116,784 votes. Campa-Najjar has 48.8% or 111,412 votes.  This does not include south Riverside County, which skews more conservative.

 
 
By Kendra Sitton
 
November 3, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- The race to replace Representative Duncan Hunter is shaping up to be a close election that will likely not be called until the final votes are counted after Nov. 20. 

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SARA JACOBS WINS RACE FOR 53RD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

By Kendra Sitton

November 3, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- In the race to replace Representative Susan Davis in the 53rd District, Sara Jacobs took a decisivie lead over City Council President Georgette Gomez. As of 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, Gomez trailed by over 40,000 votes and conceded the race to Jacob.

Both candidates ran as progressives in a heavily blue district.

Georgette Gomez is San Diego’s current City Council President and representative of District 9. Before holding office; she was an environmental justice organizer.

Sara Jacobs has not held elected office before but she is the granddaughter of Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs. She has previously worked in the State Department and is a childhood anti-poverty advocate.

Both women are vying to fill the seat vacated by Susan Davis who is retiring. She previously held the seat for almost 20 years and was considered more moderate than her district.


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LEMON GROVE MAYOR VASQUEZ WINNING, BUT COUNCILMAN ARAMBULA MAY LOSE SEAT

By Miriam Raftery
 
November 3, 2020 (Lemon Grove) – Lemon Grove Mayor Vasquez, the first Black mayor in San Diego County, appears heading to reelection with 40.25% of the vote and more than 57% of votes tallied.  Councilman Jerry Jones has 33.07%, with Kamaal Martin and Christopher Williams trailing at 18.47% and 8.22% respectively.

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WATCH OUR ELECTION NIGHT SPECIAL AT 9 PM!

November 3, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -- East County Magazine will be livestreaming a special election night show  with East County elections results from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.  Watch live at https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyMagazine

Also follow EastCountyMag on Twitter for results.


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66% OF SAN DIEGO COUNTY VOTERS HAVE ALREADY CAST BALLOTS AS ELECTION DAY BEGINS

By Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  Mayoral candidate Barbara Bry drops off her mail-in ballot at the La Jolla branch library on Election Day. Photo by Chris Stone

November 3, 2020 (San Diego) - As Election Day begins, nearly 1.3 million San Diego County residents have already voted — a 66% early turnout that matches the total turnout in the 2018 gubernatorial election.


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ETHICS QUESTIONS RAISED—AGAIN--OVER CAJON VALLEY TRUSTEE JIM MILLER IN REELECTION CAMPAIGN

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 2, 2020 (El Cajon) – Stacie Hoover, a candidate running for Cajon Valley Union School District board against trustee Jim Miller, says she is considering legal action against Miller for posts on Defend East County and other sites that she contends are false, defamatory, and racially insensitive.

The Defend East County (DEC) website was shut down by Facebook this week after months of complaints that include racist, violent and defamatory content, though Facebook has not stated exactly why it deleted the site. Miller, a member of the group, posted, “I appreciate your support as my opponent is a BLM backer who was recruited to run against me by the far left.”

Elsewhere, Miller for Cajon Valley School Board posted, “My opponent and her ANTIFA backers continue to tear down my signs and we continue to replace them up to the end.”

ECM asked Hoover, a retired paralegal raising a grandson in the district, about Miller's posts. She replied,“Nobody recruited me. If he has a problem with me supporting black lives, I feel sorry for him and those families in this district and the world.  I don’t have any ties to Antifa. I do not support violence or intimidation from anyone, including him. Now I know how Jill Barto feels.”

Audio: 


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COVID-19 CASES SKYROCKET ACROSS U.S. DESPITE TRUMP CLAIM OF “TURNING CORNER”; PRESIDENT'S RALLIES SPREAD VIRUS AND CAUSED DEATHS, STUDY FINDS

Trump rallies caused over 30,000 COVID cases and 800 deaths, Stanford researchers find

By Miriam Raftery

November 1, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – On Friday, the U.S. reported 100,233 new coronavirus infections in a single day – the highest daily total ever for any nation, Reuters reports.  The spike belies President Donald Trump’s claim during last week’s debate when he stated, “We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.” 

Every second, the U.S. is now adding a new coronavirus case, overwhelming hospitals in many cities.  USA Today reports that some hospitals are running out of beds and staffers; as a result, the situation is so dire that some hospitals report they may soon have to ration care. 

Despite surviving coronavirus himself, the President has refused to set a role model for others to avoid transmission. Shortly after leaving the hospital he resumed holding in-person rallies to large crowds,  most not wearing masks. Now, Stanford researchers have found that Trump’s rallies between June and September alone were directly responsible for 30,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 700 deaths – including deaths of people who never attended the rallies, but were exposed by Trump supporters who did attend, CNBC reports.


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VOGEL CHALLENGES HEIMERDINGER FOR MOUNTAIN EMPIRE SCHOOL TRUSTEE

 

By Robin N. Kendall

October 30, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- East County residents in Area 6 of Mountain Empire Unified School District will either reelect  incumbent school board president Tina Heimerdinger, or choose challenger Story R. Vogel, a retired historian who also coaches a the Mountain Empire High School football team.

According to the district website at https://www.meusd.org, Mountain Empire serves families living in Pine Valley, Campo, Descanso, Boulevard, Portero, Lake Morena and Jacumba. Chris Anderson, the incumbent in Area 7 (Campo), is running for reelection unopposed.

Story Vogel responded to East County Magazine (ECM) questions and submitted his biography and ballot statement. Incumbent Tina Heimerdinger was also invited to participate via several emails, but did not respond.

Heimerdinger, who is president of the board, has served on it for more than a decade including the turbulent tenure of Superintendent Steve Van Zant, who pled guilty to felony conflict of interest and was ordered to repay the district $50,000. Van Zant set up charter schools in other districts overseen by Mountain Empire from which his consulting company profited, as ECM reported, also raising questions over lack of oversight by the board on Heimerdinger’s watch.

Here are Vogel's responses:


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HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION AIMS TO PREVENT VOTER INTIMIDATION

East County News Service

Photo: Together We Can Do More: The Leon Williams Story (available now at shopaztecs.com)

October 30, 2020 (San Diego) -- On October 22, 2020, the Leon L. Williams San Diego County Human Relations Commission met to discuss the election climate and inform residents how to report voter intimidation or harassment.

The Commission released the following statement:

“The Leon L. Williams San Diego County Human Relations Commission promotes positive relations, respect, and the integrity of every individual regardless of gender, religion, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, or citizenship status. The Commission condemns racism, bigotry, white supremacy and hatred of any kind. Appreciating and respecting one another is of utmost importance during the election season. We want to reassure voters that our Commission and law enforcement is making safe peaceful voting a top priority. All eligible citizens have the right to vote in a peaceful manner. We urge all to respect differing points of view and to be able to peacefully disagree with one another. We implore the public to continue this level of understanding after the election and call for civility while exercising our civic duty.”


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

PRESERVE WILD SANTEE TURNS IN 6,300 SIGNATURES TO PUT FANITA RANCH ON BALLOT

By Mike Allen
 
Photos courtesy of Van Collinsworth, Preserve Wild Santee
 
Photo:  Van Collinsworth,  Preserve Wild Santee, left, gives a thumbs up to supporters of the signature gathering drive
 
October 30, 2020 (Santee) -- The campaign to allow Santee voters to weigh in on the Fanita Ranch project turned in 6,300 signatures to the Santee City Clerk’s office Oct. 29, nearly double the minimum number required to force the City Council to either rescind its approval or put the issue to a public vote.

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