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What Elections Have San Diego Political Candidates Missed?

Photo caption: A sheet of stickers that say "I voted" in Spanish at a polling place in San D...

Photo credit: Associated Press

A sheet of stickers that say "I voted" in Spanish at a polling place in San Diego's Barrio Logan, Nov. 2, 2010.

As the June 7 election approaches, KPBS took a look at candidates’ voting records. The results may surprise you.

Transcript

In advance of the June 7 election, KPBS examined the voting records of more than three dozen San Diego County candidates running for office. We wanted to see which elections they voted in and if they missed any.

Some of the results may surprise you. Three congressmen have missed elections. (Some of their opponents have skipped elections, too.) A San Diego mayoral candidate missed 10 elections. And some City Council candidates have spotty voting records.

Why does this matter? Low voter turnout is a persistent problem locally and in the state.

Less than a third of registered voters in San Diego County and only a quarter of registered voters statewide cast ballots in the last primary in June 2014.

Of the county’s registered voters, about 45 percent participated in the 2014 general election, and just over 42 percent statewide. Just under 77 percent of the county’s registered voters participated in the last presidential election, and 72 percent statewide.

We looked at the voting records of 39 candidates, and only a third had not missed an election. Eleven of the candidates missed at least one presidential election.

KPBS only examined those elections in which the candidate was registered to vote, and noted when that candidate first registered in San Diego County. We did not search voting records in other counties where candidates lived.

The candidate who missed the most elections — 17 — is Kenneth “Mike” Canada, who’s running against Democratic Rep. Scott Peters in the 52nd Congressional District. Canada's explanation for why is below.

Special Feature Election News

Next on the list of most elections missed is Keith Mikas, a candidate for San Diego City Council District 5, who skipped 13 elections. Ray Ellis, a candidate for San Diego City Council District 1, missed 12. Jacquie Atkinson, who also is running against Peters in the 52nd Congressional District, missed 11. And Ed Harris, a candidate for San Diego mayor, missed 10.

Mikas and Canada both missed five presidential elections, more than the other candidates.

Of the incumbents, the one who missed the most was Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine. He didn’t vote in 10.

Below is the full list of candidates and their voting records. KPBS contacted each candidate for comment. We’ve included all of the responses we received.

San Diego Mayor

Kevin Faulconer

No elections missed

(Records back to 1998, which is when he moved back to San Diego, according to his campaign.)

Ed Harris

Off-year primary: 6/8/2010

Statewide special election: 5/19/2009

Direct primary: 6/3/2008

Off-year general: 11/7/2006

Off-year primary: 6/6/2006

San Diego special runoff: 1/10/2006

Off-year primary: 3/5/2002

Presidential primary: 3/7/2000

Special election, library ordinance: 3/2/1999

Off year primary 6/2/1998

(Records back to 1996.)

“I guess I’m like many voters. I’m sometimes frustrated by the choices on the ballot and the negative politics, and I occasionally don’t vote. My decision to run for mayor is based on providing voters with a better choice and a reason to vote.”

Lori Saldaña

No elections missed

(Records back to 1998.)

City Attorney

Gil Cabrera

Statewide special election: 5/19/2009

Special election, library ordinance: 3/2/1999

(Records back to 1998, which is when he said he moved to San Diego.)

“In terms of the two elections I did not vote in, I do not vote by mail, so I am assuming I was out of town or otherwise unavailable on those two dates.”

Rafael Castellanos

Statewide special election: 5/19/2009

Direct primary: 6/3/2008

Off-year general election: 11/7/2006

(Records back to 2003.)

“I moved to San Diego in October 2006. I have always taken my right to vote seriously even though I might not have had 100% participation. I have reviewed my schedule for the elections in question and believe that at least one is in error. During the 2008 primary I was volunteering for the Obama campaign and was very involved in the election so I find it highly unlikely that I did not vote.” (Note: Castellanos did not miss the presidential primary, but the city of San Diego primary in 2008.) “As for the others it appears that I was likely traveling for unanticipated matters and was unable to secure a mail-in ballot. That being said, I do believe that the right to vote is an important one and one that my family and I have always taken seriously."

Mara Elliot

San Diego special election, 6th Council District: 4/17/2001

(Records back to 1996.)

Robert Hickey

Hickey does not have public voting records. Here is a statement from his campaign:

"Robert Hickey has been registered and participating in San Diego elections for 23 years. As a Deputy District Attorney who has prosecuted violent and organized crime, Hickey is part of the confidential voter program, a protection provided by the state to certain classes of individuals for the safety of them and their families. In order for the Registrar of Voters to release any information related to him or his prior voting, he must appear in person during business hours to sign a release. He will do so at the earliest time available."

Bryan Pease

Statewide special election: 5/19/2009

(Records back to 2004, which is when he said he moved to San Diego.)

“I was on a cross-country road trip that summer. There were no San Diego candidates or issues in that off-year special election for statewide initiatives. I've been registered to vote since age 18 (1996) in NY and have always voted.”

City Council District 1

Barbara Bry

Special election, library ordinance: 3/2/1999

Presidential primary: 3/26/1996

San Diego City Council election: 9/21/1993

(Records back to 1990.)

“Every vote makes a difference, and I take that civic responsibility very seriously. I care deeply about encouraging more people to vote and becoming actively engaged in their communities. This is why I created Run Women Run, a non-partisan organization that encourages women to get involved in the political process.”

Ray Ellis

Off-year primary: 6/6/2006

Special primary, 50th Congressional District: 4/11/2006

Statewide special election: 11/8/2005

San Diego special election, mayor and Mount Soledad: 7/26/2005

Off-year primary: 3/5/2002

Presidential primary: 3/7/2000

Special election, library ordinance: 3/2/1999

Off-year primary: 6/2/1998

Presidential primary: 3/26/1996

San Diego City Council primary: 9/19/1995

Statewide special election: 11/2/1993

Off-year primary: 6/5/1990

(Records back to 1990.)

"As I became more involved in civic affairs like pension reform, as well as working with abused children and homeless people, I realized how important our elected leaders are. Over the last 10 years I have a perfect voting record."

Kyle Heiskala

No elections missed

(Records back to 2012.)

“I turned 18 in December of 2010, over a month after the general election of that year. I first registered to vote in District 1 in the summer of 2011 and I have not missed an election since voting for the first time on June 5th 2012 during the first general election season I was eligible.”

Bruce Lightner

No elections missed

(Records back to 1992.)

Louis Rodolico

Direct primary: 6/3/2008

(Records back to 2002.)

“I moved to San Diego August 2001, I am pretty sure I voted in the June 3, 2008 Primary. As far as I know the only election I missed was November 1988 in Philadelphia, I had to be on the job site before the polls opened and I was not able to get back to the polls before they closed.”

City Council District 3

Anthony Bernal

Statewide special election: 5/19/2009

(Records back to 2002.)

Chris Ward

No elections missed

(Records back to 2000, which is when he first moved to San Diego, according to his campaign.)

Scott Sanborn

Off-year primary: 6/3/2014

(Records back to 2014.)

“I moved to San Diego in 2010 because it is the greatest place on earth. I went to Afghanistan that same year and returned in 2011. I did not register to vote in California until 2014.”

City Council District 5

Mark Kersey

No elections missed

(Records back to 2002, which is when he first moved to San Diego, according to his campaign.)

Keith Mikas

Off-year general: 11/7/2006

Statewide special election: 11/8/2005

San Diego special election, mayor and Mount Soledad: 7/26/2005

Presidential general: 11/2/2004

Presidential primary: 3/2/2004

Statewide special election: 10/7/2003

Off-year general: 11/5/2002

Off-year primary: 3/5/2002

Presidential general: 11/7/2000

Presidential primary: 3/7/2000

Poway School District: 11/2/1999

Special election, library ordinance: 3/2/1999

Presidential primary: 3/26/1996

(Records back to 1990.)

“Between 1995 and 2007 I lived outside San Diego, so that’s why I missed those elections.”

San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu confirmed Mikas was registered to vote in San Diego since 1990. He said Mikas changed his registration from Republican to Democrat in August 2006.

Frank Tsimboukakis

San Diego special election, mayor and Mount Soledad: 7/26/2005

Off-year primary: 3/5/2002

(Records back to 2000.)

“The 2002 election I had just moved from District 7 to the house I live in now in District 5, so I had not changed my voter registration yet and didn't have elections in either district.

July 26, 2005 was my 46th birthday and was vacationing in Northern California, Berkeley, Lake Tahoe, with my family.

I just switched to vote by mail, last year, actually. I was an election day voter, but as travel has increased I switched.

I pride myself and family in voting every time since I was sworn in as a US citizen on 10-18-2000 and went and voted the same day at the registrars in Kearny Mesa.”

City Council District 7

Justin DeCesare

Off-year general: 11/2/2010

Off-year primary: 6/8/2010

Statewide special 5/19/2009

(Records back to 2008.)

Scott Sherman

No elections missed

(Records back to 1994.)

Jose Caballero

The registrar could not locate records for Caballero, and he did not respond to requests for information.

City Council District 9

Ricardo Flores

Presidential primary: 3/7/2000

Special election, library ordinance: 3/2/1999

Off-year general: 11/3/1998

Off-year primary: 6/2/1998

County special election: 11/4/1997

(Records back to 1996.)

”I was between 19 and 22 years old during the elections you list and they are all at least 16 -18 years ago, so I don’t remember why I missed them. I do know that many of the elections you cited were special elections and I was away at college at that time at UCLA. My voting record is probably very typical for many people. In every presidential election since 1964, young voters between the ages of 18 and 24 have voted at lower rates than every other age group. It’s one of the reasons I am in favor of allowing 17 year olds to vote. If we can get them to understand the impact and importance of voting while they are still in high school, I think they will be more consistent voters throughout their lives.”

Georgette Gomez

Special primary 40th state Senate: 3/12/2013

Statewide special election: 5/19/2009

Off-year primary: 6/6/2006

Presidential general: 11/7/2000

Special election, library ordinance: 3/2/1999

Off-year general: 11/3/1998

Presidential primary: 3/26/1996

San Diego City Council primary: 9/19/1995

(Records back to 1994.)

"I’ve voted in 16 of the last 19 elections in San Diego, but like many working people, I missed a few elections due to the pressures of work and family. Voting is critical in order to hold City Hall accountable to our neighborhoods. I hope everyone votes on June 7 or by mail."

Araceli Martinez

No elections missed

(Records back to 1998.)

“I turned 18 in July 1997 and registered to vote immediately, on the free speech steps at SDSU. That is also when I moved to San Diego. I have voted in every election since I registered.”

Sarah Saez

No elections missed

(Records back to 2010.)

“When I moved to San Diego in 2009 I stayed in a hostel for a little bit and then moved to a permanent address and registered to vote in 2010. I would never miss an election. Way too important :)”

52nd Congressional District

Jacquie Atkinson

San Diego special election, mayor: 11/19/2013

Presidential general: 11/6/2012

Statewide special election: 5/19/2009

Direct primary: 6/3/2008

Presidential primary: 2/5/2008

Off-year general: 11/7/2006

Off-year primary: 6/6/2006

Special primary, 50th Congressional District: 4/11/2006

Statewide special election: 11/8/2005

Presidential primary: 3/2/2004

Statewide special: 10/7/2003

(Records back to 2003.)

From 2003 to 2011, “Jacquie served extended tours of duty throughout this time period, serving in Afghanistan and Iraq,” according to her campaign. In 2012 she was temporarily assigned to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin training troops. “She recalls voting absentee and isn't sure why that isn't on record.” In 2013 she “was in Afghanistan on work related assignments.”

Atkinson’s campaign also noted that another candidate, Denise Gitsham, “wasn't registered to vote here in SD until 3/30/2015 — which coincides with the first time she planned to announce a run for Congress.”

According to the Registrar of Voters Office, Gitsham registered in 2012.

Kenneth “Mike” Canada

Special primary 40th State Senate: 3/12/2013

Presidential general: 11/6/2012

Presidential primary: 6/5/2012

Off-year primary: 6/8/2010

Statewide special: 5/19/2009

Off-year primary: 6/6/2006

Presidential general: 11/2/2004

Presidential primary: 3/2/2004

Statewide special election: 10/7/2003

Off-year general: 11/5/2002

Off-year primary: 3/5/2002

Off-year primary: 6/2/1998

Off-year general: 11/8/1994

Off-year primary: 6/7/1994

Statewide special election: 11/2/1993

Presidential primary: 6/2/1992

Off-year general: 11/6/1990

(Records back to 1990.)

Canada claims he did vote in 2012. In 2013 and between 2009 and 2010, he said he was deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan. On June 6, 2006, he said he was in England for his mother-in-law’s “death and funeral.” From 2002 to 2004, he was studying overseas in the United Kingdom, he said. In 1998, he said he was “in England on family business. Between 1990 and 1994, he was in the military.

Canada said he changed his name in 2002 from Fallis because his wife wouldn’t change her name to his.

The Registrar of Voters Office said a name change would not impact voting records.

Denise Gitsham

Off-year general: 11/4/2014

(Records back to 2012.)

“I left my job at a DC law firm to work in-house for Sapphire Energy on Torrey Pines Mesa in 2008. My new job required me to move to San Diego, but since I was still splitting my time between DC and San Diego and maintained a residence, I didn't want to go through the hassle of changing my drivers license and registration until I had to. I waited until 2012 to re-register in California, when I got heavily involved in local politics through Nathan Fletcher's mayoral campaign.

In 2012, I was a supporter of Nathan Fletcher's Independent bid for Mayor, volunteered for his campaign, and was close to his wife Mindy, who I worked with previously in the Bush administration and later founded a company with. Out of loyalty to Nathan and Mindy, and as a show of support for his candidacy, I registered as an Independent. After he lost the primary, Nathan changed his party affiliation to Democrat, and I reregistered as a Republican so that I could vote for Romney (I also attended the Republican National Convention in Tampa that year). I supported Nathan as an Independent, but could not endorse his switch to the Democratic party, because I am and always have been a Republican. When Nathan did a 180 on the party, I ceased supporting him, and returned to mine.

I didn't vote in the 2014 mid terms, because my mother contracted a life threatening autoimmune disease in September 2014. Her health - mental and physical - was in rapid decline from October 2014 - January 2015. We finally diagnosed her disease at Stanford in February 2015, as scleroderma. As a side note, I had been in intensive training for Ironman Arizona since June 2014, and four weeks from race day (mid October 2014) I pulled the plug on my lifelong dream of competing in an Ironman to spend as much time as possible with my mom in Northern California. Everything in my life came to a grinding halt, because we all thought we were going to lose her. I spent at least a few days each week, from October 2014 through February 2015 at my parents' home, flying between San Diego and Sacramento, taking my mom to doctors' appointments and helping her adjust to her new reality. Politics was the last thing on my mind, and voting fell off the radar because she was my priority (and remains so to this day, though I am happy to report that she is stabilized for now).”

Scott Peters

Special primary 50th Congressional District: 4/11/2006

San Diego City Council election: 9/21/1993

(Records back to 1993.)

“Scott has been a registered voter since he was 18. He doesn't remember missing those particular elections, but regrets missing them if he did.”

Peters’ campaign said he moved to San Diego in 1989. Vu said the registrar’s records system transferred in 1992, which means older records may not appear in its database.

Other Congressional Representatives

Darrell Issa

Vista special election: 6/5/2007

Statewide special election: 10/7/2003

Presidential primary: 6/2/1992

(Records back to 1990.)

Duncan Hunter

Statewide special election: 5/19/2009

Off-year general: 11/7/2006

Off-year primary: 6/6/2006

Statewide special election: 11/8/2005

Presidential primary: 3/2/2004

Off-year general: 11/5/2002

Off-year primary: 3/5/2002

Special election, library ordinance: 3/2/1999

Off-year primary: 6/2/1998

Special election: 6/3/1997

(Records back to 1996.)

“I’m sure he won’t even recall some or many of these,” said Hunter’s spokesman. “Anything after Sept 11 to his third combat tour in 06-07ish would be consistent with his time in the Marine Corps. Though, I trust for many service members, combat or deployments to a warzone are more about making it home alive than following campaigns during that time.”

Juan Vargas

No elections missed

(Records back to 1994.)

Susan Davis

No elections missed

(Records back to 1990.)

San Diego Unified School Board

La Shae Collins

Statewide special: 5/19/2009

Direct primary: 6/3/2008

Off-year primary: 6/6/2006

San Diego special election, mayor and Mount Soledad: 7/26/2005

(Records back to 2004.)

Sharon Whitehurst Payne

Special Cardiff School District: 4/14/1998

Special Poway/Carlsbad School: 6/3/1997

(Records back to 1996.)

San Diego County Board of Supervisors District 3

Sam Abed

Special primary 50th Congressional: 4/11/2006

Escondido Union High School bond election: 6/4/1996

Presidential primary: 3/26/1996

Off-year primary: 6/7/1994

Presidential primary: 6/2/1992

(Records back to 1992.)

Abed said he doesn’t remember missing any elections. “As soon as I got my citizenship, I registered to vote,” he said. “I’ve always voted ever since.”

Kristin Gaspar

Statewide special: 5/19/2009

Direct primary: 6/3/2008

Off-year primary: 6/6/2006

Statewide special election: 11/8/2005

Off-year primary: 3/5/2002

(Records back to 2002.)

“Full disclosure, although a San Diego native, I am 36 years old, first qualifying to vote in 1998. I left California for a brief time to attend college out of state from 1998-2002 (Arizona State University). Upon my return in May of 2002, I was able to participate again in California elections.”

David Roberts

No elections missed

(Records back to 2000.)

Roberts said he commuted between Virginia and San Diego from 1995 to 2000, then registered to vote in San Diego.

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