By Barbara Zaragoza
This year, I tried to cover elections for a region that often feels ignored: the South Bay — defined as everything south of the I-54 (including National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and South San Diego). For Democrats and pro-labor, the overall results were quite positive in this region.
Highlights of Local South Bay Elections: Measures Win Big
Most notably, debates raged on social media sites about the South Bay Measures. The results? Most people liberally voted with a resounding Yes for all South Bay measures.
- Measure P: Chula Vista’s half-cent sales tax increase, notably opposed by all four of the candidates for City Council, but supported by Mayor Mary Salas. The measure passed by 67.50% or 32,830 votes cast. Now that’s a resounding Yes.
- Measure Z: Southwestern Community College will get their $400 million bond after a resounding 68.82% of residents (or 58,482 voters) said Yes.
- Measure CC: Term limits are now set for trustees at the Sweetwater Union High School District. After years of corrupt trustees were ousted, both Democrats and Republicans were endorsing this change. Sure enough, 85.31% or 68,215 residents voted Yes.
- Measure HH: The National City Elementary School District will get their $30 million bon after 81.67% of voters said Yes. This bond was supported by school board trustees and candidates for city council.
Introducing … Your Local Candidates
For a full listing of election results throughout San Diego County, KPBS has the races, the number of ballots cast and the percentages here.
Here, I want to introduce you to the candidates based on my own coverage. During this election cycle, I have gotten to know many of the candidates and wish them all best of luck serving our communities.
- Toni Atkins (D): State Senate District 39
- Shirley Weber (D): State Assembly District 79
- Lorena Gonzalez (D): State Assembly District 80
During the primaries, Shirley Weber gave a speech noting that the California legislature has three diverse women now representing San Diego: a lesbian, African-American and a Latina. These three women are liberal and won by big margins.
**I strongly suggest you get on their respective newsletters or like their Facebook pages. These women are looking out for us in Sacramento.
City Council District No. 3: Steve Padilla received 56.11% of the vote (or 6,257 votes). He is a pro-labor, Latino Democrat now representing a largely Filipino-American constituency. He was former city councilman and Mayor of Chula Vista.
Residents in the City of Chula Vista voted by district for the first time. Members of the Filipino-American community fought hard to create their District 3, making sure it included Southwestern Community College. They, however, failed to elect a conservative Filipino-American candidate Jason Paguio. Instead, the former CV Mayor Steve Padilla will be their representative.
City Council District No. 4: Mike Diaz received 5,077 votes or 51.06%.
Although early in the evening it looked like Democrat and former city councilman Rudy Ramirez was going to win — in a last-minute upset, the Republican pro-union candidate won the elections. Mike, a retired fire-fighter, explained during the candidates forum that he has never held office before. He will now serve as a representative of the poorest district in Chula Vista. Ramirez recently had appeared in front of City Council to argue against illegal pot shops within district 4.
Chula Vista Elementary Seat No. 2: Armando Farias.
Armando was the only one of the candidates for Seat No. 2 who wrote me back with a candidate statement. This was also his first time running. He is principal of Marshall Elementary School and will now help make decisions for the largest elementary school district in the state of California.
Chula Vista Elementary Seat No. 4: Laurie K. Humphrey. Laurie was endorsed by the CVESD teacher’s union. She defeated incumbent Glendora Tremper by almost 10,000 votes.
Southwestern Community College Seat No. 3: Roberto C. Alcantar was endorsed by the SD County Democratic Party and the teachers of Southwestern College.
Between Roberto’s re-election and the passing of Measure Z, it looks like Chula Vista residents have healed the wounds from the corruption that happened in the past. They want to move forward and voters said — we trust our representatives to use our taxpayer dollars for upgrades to the college.
City Council: The darling of National City and a native whose family roots go back three generations, Democratic party endorsed Alejandra Sotelo-Solis received 3,105 votes (27.72 %). She is the incumbent and will continue her work for a third term.
Incumbent Jerry Cano won the other seat in National City with 2,143 votes. It was an interesting twist, considering Voice of San Diego published a piece shortly before the elections pointing to some strange politics regarding a grocery store owner’s request for a liquor license.
City Treasurer: Incumbent Mitchel Beauchamp won with 4,757 votes.
The race for City Treasurer in National City gained attention when Voice of San Diego revealed candidate Ditas Yamane had been a bookeeper for a company that did not provide National City with required financial reports. The company was sued and owed the city $250,000.
National School District: Barbara Avalos and Brian Clapper retained their seats. I have interviewed Barbara for my history project and I find her to be passionate about serving her community. Brian has been on local television as a strong advocate for his community as well.
City Council: Imperial Beach does not have districts. Instead, each candidate is elected at large. The Council had two seats open and 6 candidates running. The two Democratic, albeit white male candidates, won. I say “white male candidates” because IB has a 49% Hispanic population that still remain unrepresented. See IB’s demographics here.
Mark West received 1,846 votes. He is the current chair of Surfrider San Diego. I met him on Election night when he was with a large IB entourage that included IB Mayor Serge Dedina.
Bobby Patton, the incumbent, received 1,682 votes and will be the other IB city councilman. He is a first grade teacher.
Other School Boards
Sweetwater Union High Seat No. 2: Kevin J Pike. It appears that South Bay voters want a pro-labor candidate as their trustee since Kevin was endorsed by the California Labor Federation. Voters have spoken.
It’s important to remember that campaign contributions are generally open for public viewing. These campaign contributions give a good glimpse into what the candidate stands for and how they will vote while on the board. (Presumably because they take campaign donations from people and organizations they fundamentally approve of and believe in.) As long as campaign contributions are given within the bounds of the law, there’s nothing wrong here.
San Ysidro School District: Irene Lopez, the Democratic endorsed candidate, won 69.20% of the vote.
South Bay Union School: Cheryl Quinones and B. Elliott-Sanders won the two seats.
We need affordable and safe drinking water. Water district board members make it happen. This year, I tried to fill you in.
For Otay Water District Seat No. 2: Mitch Thompson, who was a former city councilman for Chula Vista.
Otay Water No. 4: Hector Gastelum
Otay Water No. 5: Mark Robak
For South Bay Irrigation District No. 2: Democratic incumbent Jose Cerda received 2,046 votes.
South Bay Irrigation No. 3: Incumbent Jose Preciado beat out former publisher of La Prensa San Diego Daniel Munoz by about 900 votes.
South Bay Irrigation No. 5: Republican Party endorsed Jose Calderon Scott beat out incumbent Zamudio. Josie also happens to be President of the Mexican American Business and Professional Association.
Interestingly, the South Bay Irrigation District received a visit from Sacramento’s Director of California’s Division of Safety of Dams, David Gutierrez at the end of September. He told board members that the Sweetwater Dam was unsafe. Although the issue has been on the table since at least 2013, his visit came right before the election of 3 Irrigation District board members.