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Diaz To Challenge Abed For Escondido Mayor’s Seat

Aired 5/6/13 on KPBS News.

Escondido’s political future gets interesting as City Councilwoman Olga Diaz challenges Sam Abed for the mayor’s seat next year.

Olga Diaz is only the second Latino ever elected to Escondido City Council, though, according to the latest census, the city’s population is virtually half Latino. Diaz recently won re-election for a second term on the council, so she will be running for mayor from a safe seat. She said she’s ready to challenge Mayor Sam Abed for the top spot in 2014.

Escondido City Councilwoman Olga Diaz, May 2013

“Ever since he’s been mayor,” she said, “our city has experienced what some of us call ‘Sam-aggedon.’ There has been a slow-paced destruction of parks and recreation, libraries and quality of life standards. Under my leadership, I think the sense of community will be restored, and the sense of trust.“

Diaz is a Democrat in a city whose registered voters are currently predominantly Republicans.

Abed, who has served as mayor since 2010, is focused on developing a fertile business climate in Escondido. He has been an energetic campaigner for business interests and has raised more campaign funds than other city candidates.

Escondido Mayor Sam Abed

The Escondido City Council recently increased campaign contribution limits from $500 per contributor to $4,100. Diaz said she started off as a small business owner and she does not believe she would have to outspend Mayor Abed to beat him.

“I finally decided that I really needed to do this because there’s an expectation that elected leaders honor the role they have and respect the people they serve. That’s been a bit lacking,” she said, “So I really aim to be the representative that actually listens, and that can hopefully bridge between communities of interest and also to be a better ambassador of our city within our region. “

By the time of the election next year, Escondido will be divided into four voting districts, a change forced on the city by a voting rights lawsuit from residents who said city-wide voting discriminated against Latinos. However the mayor’s seat will continue to be voted for by the city at large.

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