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Border & Immigration

Winner Declared In Tijuana's Mayoral Race

Juan Manuel Gastélum is pictured in this undated photo.
Juan Manuel Gastélum
Juan Manuel Gastélum is pictured in this undated photo.

Winner Declared In Tijuana’s Mayoral Race
Baja California's electoral institute says Juan Manuel Gastelum of the right-of-center PAN party won Tijuana's mayoral elections earlier this month.

Election officials in Mexico have officially declared a winner in Tijuana’s mayoral race: Juan Manuel Gastelum of the right-of-center PAN party, which rules the state of Baja California. But the runners-up are contesting the results.

Officials say the former Mexican Congressman got more than 95,000 votes, or about 23 percent of the vote in the elections held earlier this month. Two runners-up were close behind Gastelum, with 22 percent and 21 percent of the vote.

Gastelum will serve as mayor starting December, unless six parties contesting the results succeed in their call for a re-election based on perceived irregularities, such as the illegal opening of a warehouse where some ballots were stored.

“The electoral process concluded with the recognition of Gastelum, but the process in the courts could last another two to three months," said Victor Espinoza, a government administration expert at Mexico's border research institute, Colegia de la Frontera Norte.

Tijuana mayors have long come from either the PAN or Mexico's current ruling party, the PRI. For the first time ever, a candidate from a newer party, PES, came in second place.

That was Julian Leyzaola, a former police chief known for his heavy hand with cartels. He got 22 percent of the vote. The PRI candidate, in third place, captured 21 percent of the vote.

Key issues in the elections were public safety, infrastructure (including transportation) and the quality of local jobs.

Gastelum has said he wants to improve public safety by boosting salaries for police, which he believes will keep them from succumbing to bribes and other forms of corruption. He has also called for increased cross-border commerce and tourism with San Diego.