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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.

As the county continues, wtih 64,000 ballots remaining to be tallied countywide, East County voters are bucking the national trend.  Late returns locally are favoring conservative candidates, while at the national level, mail-in voters were predominantly Democrats.
In Santee’s City Council race district 4, Dustin Trotter, a Republican, has overtaken Samm Hurst, a Democrat, by a mere 14 votes, as the count continues.  Trotter, a building contractor, is a pro-growth candidate while Hurst, a teacher and researcher, ran on a platform that included opposition to Fanita Ranch and a belief that the people should have a say on large-scale developments that exceed general plan requirements.  Measure N, which would grant the people that right, is still passing by a slim 341 vote margin. 
In El Cajon’s District 2, with six candidates running, Michelle Metschel still has a slim lead with 1,377 votes total so far, but second place has flipped, with Letitia Dickerson now in a close second with 1,320 votes and Stephanie Harper in third with 1,307 votes. Metschel and Dickerson are Republicans, while Harper is a Democratic.
Similarly in Lemon Grove, which has at-large elections in which the top two vote getters will both win seats, George Gastil is still in first with 4,374 votes and Liana Lebaron in second with 4,364.  But Teresa Rosiak has climbed into third place at 3,775 votes, surpassing incumbent David Arambula who trails at 3,744 votes. Both Gastil and Arambula were endorsed by the Democratic party, though Arambula drew controversy due to a civil suit filed against him and the city following a physical altercation. Rosiak is endorsed by the Republican Party.
In the closely watched race to fill Dianne Jacob’s seat in the 2nd Supervisorial District, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus’ lead over former State Senator Joel Anderson has shrunk to just 203 votes out of more than 280,000 ballots counted thus far. Both are Republicans, though Anderson was endorsed by the County Republican Party while Vaus had the endorsement of Supervisor Jacob, a Republican retiring after 25 years of service.
These neck-and-neck races are clear indications that every vote matters.

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