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By Buck Shott

August 19, 2010 (San Diego's East County) – The races are on for mayor and council positions in East Couny. Two local mayors’ seats are up for reelection in November. Both face challengers vying for the leadership spots in El Cajon and La Mesa. In addition, a pack of contenders is vying to run for council seats in East County’s cities of El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, and Santee. Here's the lineup: 


Art Madrid, who has reigned as La Mesa’s mayor for more than two decades, faces a challenge from realtor Laura Lothian, a relative newcomer to the City. Madrid, in a letter to Lothian, denounced “candidates who fear public scrutiny” and challenged Lothian to a series of debates. Lothian sent a bristly response that accused Madrid of Chicago-style politics. “I will not be bullied into you dictating the time, place or moderator,” she replied. Thus far Lothian has agreed to only one appearance with Madrid on September 16 at the La Mesa Chamber’s “Meet the Candidates” forum.”

Four candidates are running against Mayor Mark Lewis for the leadership reins in El Cajon. They are:

• John “Mike” Garcia, an Iraq War veteran
• Johnney Minarick, a student and handyman
• Todd Moore, a retired police officer
• Darrin James Mroz, an insurance broker

La Mesa Council members Ernie Ewin, a realtor, and Mark Arapostathis, a teacher, are up for reelection as well. Four other candidates have filed papers in hopes of gaining a toehold on the Council. They are:

• Patrick Dean, a chef with interest in environmental/sustainable food supply issues. reportedly wants to legalize raising chickens in La Mesa.
• Byron Reed, a security services manager (no candidate statement filed)
• Kevin Rynearson, a UCSD graduate student in chemistry and orchid grower, posted a rhino as his photo at La Mesa Today’s website.
• Ian Shiff, a security software executive, pledged to donate half his salary to charity


For El Cajon Council, incumbent Gary Kendrick faces challenges from a trio of El Cajon residents:

• Anthony Chisano, a retired city employee and dog trainer
• Drum Macomber, retired city employee and former El Cajon Citizen of the Year
• Duane Swainston, a manufacturing supervisor with GKN Aerospace-Chemtronics

A free-for-all scramble is underway in Santee, where three seats are up for election this fall. Hal Ryan is not seeking reelection and Brian Jones is running for Assembly, creating two open seats. In addition, Councilmember John Minto seeks reelection. Six other candidates are off and running. They are:

• Janet Enright, retired administrative manager
• Shari Groce, aerospace engineer
• Ben Kalasho, business owner/CEO
• Rob McNelis, Santee business owner and real estate broker
• Rudy Reyes, archaeologist/scientist/educator
• John Ryan, longshoreman/former Santee Planning commissioner
• Rocky Qualin, business consultant


In Lemon Grove, incumbents Jerry Jones and Jerry Selby face challenges from four challengers, including former Councilman Tom Clabby as well as Howard Cook, Wayne Love, and Lou Melendez. No occupations were immediately available.

Watch for ECM interviews with all candidates willing to “meet the press” in the near future.

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