Republicans Win North County Mayoral Races
In four closely watched mayoral races in North County — Escondido, Encinitas, Vista and Poway — one city saw an upset.
In Poway, longtime City Councilman and Mayor Don Higginson lost to Steve Vaus, a Grammy award-winning singer elected to the City Council just two years ago. Both men are Republicans, but Vaus had the party endorsement, raised more money and promised a new approach for the city.
In Escondido, Republican Mayor Sam Abed defeated his challenger, Democratic City Councilwoman Olga Diaz, who had hoped to become the first Latina elected mayor in the city. Diaz ran on a platform of making the city more inclusive for its Latino residents, who now make up more than 50 percent of the population.
Encinitas is the only city in North County with more registered Democratic than Republican voters. The city has faced controversies recently over issues of growth and development, as well as city spending.
Residents decided to elect a mayor for the first time this year, rather than have the City Council appoint one of their members. Voters chose Kristin Gaspar, a Republican with a business background and a more pro-development approach than her slow-growth Democratic challengers.
In Vista, Republican Judy Ritter, a longtime councilwoman and mayor, fought off a challenge by Democrat Cody Campbell, a first term councilman.
San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond and Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall were unchallenged. San Marcos even canceled its mayoral race for lack of opposition.
Del Mar and Solana Beach still rely on their City Council members to rotate the mayor’s seat.
The election results leave all seven North County cities that have elected mayors with Republican leadership.