Tabulating the ballots from the June 5 primary may be just about finished in San Diego, but the results aren’t clear. Two contests are within single-digit margins, a recount is possible in one, and a court case could muddy the waters in another.
City Council District 2 candidate Bryan Pease has announced plans to challenge incumbent Lorie Zapf’s eligibility to run for a third term.
Pease was the third-place finisher in the June 5 primary. A court ruling affirming his contention would allow him to advance to the November general election.
Here’s a snip from his email announcing the legal action:
However, based on the City Charter language that was in effect when Councilmember Zapf’s home in Bay Ho was redistricted in 2011, she is ineligible to serve a third consecutive term under term limits that have been in effect since 1992.
The Charter was amended in 2016 to make it appear as though Zapf could seek another term, but the operative language when she was redistricted makes it clear she can’t because all three terms would be from the same district.
There is a court procedure for challenging a primary election nomination when a nominee is ineligible to serve. (The top two in a nonpartisan primary are considered nominated for the general election.) I will be bringing such a challenge this week, and the matter will need to be heard by a judge within a month pursuant to the Elections Code.
Pease trails second-place finisher, Dr. Jen Campbell by just under five hundred votes.
Incumbent Lorie Zapf, despite having the backing of the Republican Party and the downtown mafia (aka Lincoln Club/Chamber of Commerce) only picked up 42.8% of the vote. Democratic party-backed candidates received 51% of all ballots cast, meaning this contest could be a game-changer in the November elections.
Democratic Councilwoman (and President) Myrtle Cole has dropped into second place (at least for the moment) behind challenger Monica Montgomery by three votes.
Although both candidates will appear on the November ballot, the incumbent’s poor performance comes as shock to the local political establishment. More than 60% of the ballots cast in the District 4 contest were for candidates other than the Cole.
ACLU Attorney Monica Montgomery is backed by a coalition of progressive organizations, including Our Revolution, which grew out of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
I’ve now met the challenger on a couple of occasions and have to say I’m impressed. Look for an interview on these pages sometime after Labor Day.
Montgomery was a staffer for Myrtle Cole who left after the Councilwoman made a series of questionable comments on racial profiling during a town hall meeting.
From the Progressive Magazine:
“There’s more black-on-black shootings in our nation than ever before,” Cole said at a July 2016 meeting on racial profiling meeting in the San Diego Police Department. “Blacks are shooting blacks. So who do [the police] stop? They’re not going to stop a white male. They’re not going to stop a Hispanic male or Asian. They’re going to stop an African-American. That’s who they’re going to stop, because those are the ones [who are] shooting.” Cole later apologized for the remarks as local activists called for her resignation.
“I could not look my community in the eye and say it was justified for her to say something like that,” Montgomery told me. “I left the same day she made those comments.”
I expect this contest at least to some degree will be a proxy fight over how the local criminal justice system is viewed in District 4.
In her first council victory, Cole replaced Councilman Tony Young, who resigned to head the San Diego chapter of the American Red Cross. Montgomery and Villafranca were among the nine candidates in that election, and came in last and second to last, respectively.
Cole won an easy re-election in 2014 and is serving her second year as council president, a position the City Council votes on annually. If she wins in November, it would be her last four-year stint because of term limits.
If she loses, it would be the first time an incumbent lost re-election in the southeastern San Diego council district since 1991.
In Council District 8, Antonio Martinez leads Christian Ramirez in the contest for second place by four votes.
One of these two candidates will face Vivian Moreno in the November election. Incumbent David Alvarez is termed out.
All three candidates are solid Democrats. Moreno has some advantages because she worked for and was endorsed by Alvarez. Martinez successfully ran for a seat on the San Ysidro School Board, pledging to fight the corruption that’s plagued the district for many years. Ramirez is well known as a community advocate and human rights activist.
The Union-Tribune ran an article discussing the possibility of a recount in District 8:
Ramirez said the final margin is likely to be so close that a recount may make sense.
“Everything’s on the table on our end,” he said. “However this lands at the end of the final count, I think it being so close one almost has to consider the possibility of a recount.”
Martinez said by phone on Friday that he also considers a recount a possibility, but added that he trusts the registrar to get the final tally right.
He also said the potentially steep costs of a recount could affect his decision.
Any California voter can request a recount within five days of certification of the election results. After specifying how they want the recount to proceed and submitting a deposit for the recount cost, the registrar must start the process within seven days.
Results cannot be changed unless every vote is recounted, and recounts are sometimes interrupted when it appears they’re not working towards a new result.
If the outcome changes, the deposit goes back to the requester. Otherwise, the registrar keeps it.
The UT article points out a 2014 recount in Chula Vista contest, costing $50,000 despite being suspended after a week.
One other contest, for San Diego Community College District E, has Sean Elo leading Rafael Perez by 26 votes for the second place slot.
Former City Councilman David Alvarez, who captured 47% of the primary vote will compete against the eventual winner in November.
Happy Fourth of July! I’ll be taking the day off from writing this column.
— Brian Resnick (@B_resnick) July 3, 2018
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