Politics

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.

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

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. 

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.

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."

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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: 

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.

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:

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.”

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.

NEARLY HALF OF SAN DIEGO COUNTY'S 1.95 MILLION VOTERS HAVE NOW CAST BALLOTS

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

Photo:  Voters drop off a mail-in ballot at the San Diego Registrar of Voters office in Kearny Mesa. Photo by Chris Stone

October 30, 2020 (San Diego) - In an early-voting surge seen across the country, nearly half of San Diego County’s 1.95 million voters have cast their ballots in the Nov. 3 election, the Registrar of Voters reported Thursday.

NEW POLL SHOW ISSA PICKS UP LEAD IN 50TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT

By Miriam Raftery

 

Photos:  Darrell Issa, left, and Ammar Campa-Najjar, right

 

October 30, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- A new San Diego Union-Tribune/10 News poll conducted by Survey USA shows Republican Congressman Darrell Issa with a double-digit lead over Democratic opponent Ammar Campa-Najjar in the 50th Congressional District race to fill the seat left vacant by Duncan D. Hunter’s resignation. The poll has Issa leading with 51% to Campa-Najjar’s 40%, with 9% undecided.

READER’S EDITORIAL: FOR WHOSE VISION DO WE VOTE?

By Patrick Osio

October 30, 2020 (San Diego) -- Conventional political wisdom dictates there are two main factors that propel a sitting president to reelection victory – positive economy and low unemployment.  Arguments can be made that President Trump inherited these two factors from the Obama years. But those arguments make no difference, simply because under Trump economy growth, rising new employment and decreasing unemployment continued.

READER’S EDITORIAL: LA MESA CANNOT TRUST COLIN PARENT

By Aaron Amerling

 

October 29, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Over the past four years, it has become apparent that the citizens of La Mesa can not trust Colin Parent to do what is in the community's best interest, and only what’s in his personal or donor’s best interests.

CAMPA-NAJJAR TELLS STANDS ON MIDEAST PEACE, BDS

By Donald H.  Harrison, San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and congressional candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar

October 29, 2020 (San Diego) - Congressional candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar, reacting to an unfavorable story carried about him by the Breitbart news organization, reiterated on Wednesday his support for a peaceful two-state solution for the Israelis and Palestinians, and his opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

LETITIA DICKERSON WANTS TO FIGHT FOR FORGOTTEN RESIDENTS IN EL CAJON’S DISTRICT TWO

 

By Miriam Raftery

View our video interview with Letitia Dickerson: click here

October 29, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Letitia Dickerson, one of six candidates running for El Cajon City Council in District two, calls the area the “forgotten district” while other parts of the city have seen growth. She pledges to make district two “unforgettable” if elected.

She missed our candidate forum because the city had an error her email address. (View forum with the other five candidates).  Fortunately, she’s reached out to ECM and conducted an interview via Zoom to talk about her goals if elected.   

According to her website, Letitia has lived in El Cajon for over 22 years and says at least 18 of those have been in district two. She was born in Jersey and calls herself “a Jersey girl with a California heart.” She’s gone from homeless to owning small businesses including a smoothie shop and gym, and now works in telecommunications.  She’s raised her children in the district and now has grandchildren here as well.  She’s an ordained evangelical and a Republican who is the coordinator of SoCal Day of Hope, a program that provides outreach and resources to people in need. She’s also volunteered with community nonprofits including Rescue Mission, Salvation Army,  San Diego Food Bank, San Diego Mentors, Promises for Kids and more.

Below are highlights from her interview.

KEEP IT UP SAN DIEGO - VOTE SAFER, VOTE EARLY

By Tracy DeFore, County of San Diego Communications Office

October 28, 2020 (San Diego) - With just over a week left to vote, the Registrar’s office reports more than 725,000 San Diego County voters have already cast their ballots in the Nov. 3 Presidential General Election. That’s 435,000 more than those returned as of this date for the November 2016 presidential election. And it’s more than a third of all 1.95 million mail ballots sent to voters this year.

As part of its COVID-19 Vote Safer San Diego campaign, the Registrar urges you to vote safer and vote early. Make voting decisions and complete your ballot from the safety of your home. Sign and date your return envelope, seal your completed ballot inside and return it to a trusted source.

Ballots received by the Registrar’s office throughout this week should be processed in time for the first release of Election Night results that are posted shortly after 8 p.m. The sooner you return your mail ballot, the sooner Registrar’s staff can process it into the count.

If you want to vote in-person that option is available, too. The Registrar urges you to avoid crowds and take advantage of early voting. You can do so:

DIRECTOR JOEL SCALZITTI SEEKS REELECTION TO HELIX WATER DISTRICT BOARD, CITES PASSION FOR PUBLIC SERVICE

View video interview with Joel Scalzitti: https://youtu.be/-O30iV7VXKw

By Miriam Raftery

Joel Scalzitti, past president of the Helix Water Board, is running for reelection in district 5, which includes portions of El Cajon, Granite Hills, Bostonia and Lakeside. 

He’s served on the board for over 10 years, owns  local businesses including a water service company for freeway construction, a donut shop and a deli.  He also serves as a member of the San Diego County Water Authority Board and the Advanced Water Purification board. He’s also served on several Helix Water District committees, including the audit committee, water quality and resources committee, and a committee on parks. In addition, he led efforts to keep the Lake Jennings campground open.

He’s one of four candidates in the race, including Vickie Knight Butcher,  Luis Tejeda, and Tyler Logan. (View our interview with Butcher.)  Tejeda and Logan do not have ballot statements or campaign websites that we could find.

Scalzitti has depth of experience in water issues and says he has a "passion for public service."  Here are highlights of Joel Scalzitti’s responses to our questions:

VICKIE KNIGHT-BUTCHER WANTS EQUITABLE WATER RATES IN HELIX WATER DISTRICT

 

By Miriam Raftery

View our video interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wq20LfdAzpc

October 27, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – In a Zoom interview with East County Magazine, Vickie Knight Butcher, J.D. shared concerns over the impacts of COVID-19 on families in the Helix Water District and her hopes to make water rates equitable based on family and lot size, as well as water usage. Butcher, who has extensive state and international experience in water policy, also wants to hold down water rates and have any rate change proposals considered annually with full public input.

Butcher is running in district 5 against Director Joel Scalzitti and two other challengers who did not file ballot statements (Luis Tejeda and Tyler Logan).  ECM previously interrviewed Scalzitti; view video of his interview. District 5 covers the eastern portion of the Helix district including portions of El Cajon, Granite Hills, Bostonia and Lakeside. View map.

“I have had water as my passion for a number of years,” says Butcher. I have served on many boards and commissions at the city, county, state, national and international level…and I’m  committed to making my community a better place to live.”

TIGHT RACE FOR 50TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT SEAT, POLLS INDICATE

East County News Service

October 27, 2020 (San Diego) -- A new survey released today by Strategies 360 showed each of the candidates winning 42% of likely voters who said they have already decided or are leading toward a candidate. Another 16% remain completely undecided.

 

The Cook Political Report upgraded California’s Congressional 50th district competitive rating on October 21st. Dave Wasserman’s ratings change indicates that the race is more competitive than it was in 2018 against Duncan D. Hunter, as Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar battles former Congressman Darrell Issa for the seat left vacant by Hunter’s resignation after pleading guilty to a federal corruption charge.

HOW TO REPORT SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY OR VOTER INTERFERENCE

Story and photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

 

October 27, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Poll workers are trained to de-escalate disturbances at polling sites. Even so, with a record number of early voting taking place not only in San Diego County but across the country, this is an election that might have the biggest need to beware of voter intimidation and interference at polling and ballot drop-off sites.

The County of San Diego Registrar of Voters released information that outlines the prohibited activities at polling and ballot drop off sites. The flyer outlines the activities as such:  no intimidation of voters, no tampering with the voting system, no falsely acting as election officials, no unauthorized uniformed personnel, no payment for voting or bribery, no campaigning at or near polls, no vandalism at polling places and no interfering with the election process. The Nov. 3rd vote has seen unprecedented media stories on what will not be allowed and cites the California election codes that might be broken.

ECM reached out to the County of San Diego Registrar of Voters via email and Antonia Hutzell, public relations coordinator responded with these tips:

ENVIRONMENTALISTS SUE TO BLOCK FANITA RANCH IN SANTEE

East County News Service
 
File photo: the devastating 2003 Cedar Fire, which caused traffic gridlock on local freeways, scorched an estimated 95% of the site where Fanita Ranch would be built.
 
October 25, 2020 (Santee) – Four environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the city of Santee and councilmembers. The groups contend that the city council ignored fire dangers, habitat impacts and cultural resources in approving Fanita Ranch, a major housing development.

RAMONA ELECTION: SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES

By Robin N. Kendall

Photo, left:  Joe Stupar

October 23, 2020 (Ramona) - In Ramona Unified School District, residents may vote for two candidates to fill seats on the school board. The four candidates are: Daryn Drum (Retired Firefighter), Dawn Perfect (Parent/Board Member), John Rajcic (Retired Educator/Businessman) and Joe Stupar (Chamber Executive Director). 

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