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North County Election Update: Coastal Cities Becoming More Liberal

Photo caption:

Photo by Alison St John

A stretch of beach near the Oceanside Pier is seen in this photo, October 2016.

North County Election Update: Coastal Cities Becoming More Liberal?

GUEST:

Alison St John, North County reporter, KPBS

Transcript

The Democratic vote that gave Doug Applegate his lead over Congressman Darrell Issa in San Diego County is showing up in some North County coastal cities this year, too.

The latest voter registration report from the San Diego Registrar of Voters shows registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas and Vista.

Escondido, Poway, San Marcos, Oceanside and Carlsbad have a majority of Republican registered voters.

Most of North County’s nine cities are run by city councils that are either entirely, or mostly, Republican.

But that appears to be changing in some cases this year. Several cities canceled their elections in the last election cycle due to a lack of challengers, but this year every city had a healthy slate of competing candidates. In most cases incumbents have kept their seats, but there are some new faces.

In Carlsbad, a Democrat — Cori Schumacher — may win a seat on the previously all-Republican city council, possibly for the first time.

This is Schumacher’s first campaign for office, though she is a veteran of the campaign earlier this year to defeat Carlbad's Measure A — the proposal to build an upscale shopping center on the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. It was a plan that galvanized a new constituency of voters into action last February.

Schumacher is running ahead of incumbent Lorraine Wood, who was elected in 2012.

In the coastal city to the south, Encinitas, voters have elected three progressive members to the council, and one will become the mayor. Catherine Blakespear won more than 60 percent of the vote, easily defeating Republican Paul Gaspar, husband of incumbent Mayor Kristin Gaspar.

Kristin Gaspar is in a tight race against County Supervisor Dave Roberts for the District 3 Board of Supervisors seat. Roberts is in the lead, but the race is too close to call.

The Encinitas City Council will need to decide whether to appoint someone to replace Blakespear on council or hold a special election, a decision that will be watched closely.

The city risks renewed litigation since voters rejected Measure T, the proposal that would have made Encinitas compliant with a state law requiring every city to have a housing plan. Measure T would have allowed increased housing density in parts of the city. Both developers and environmentalists have threatened to revive lawsuits if Measure T failed. They are waiting to see how the new council handles the impasse.

In Vista, the conservative majority strengthened its hand when the only Democrat on the council, Cody Campbell, lost his seat to Joe Green, a Republican with a strong base of support from his days on the school PTA.

But in Escondido, the lone Democrat on the City Council, Olga Diaz, kept her seat with more than 60 percent of the vote, in spite of a strong challenge from Republican Joe Garcia. Diaz has taken positions that have earned her a reputation as an independent thinker, for example supporting a developer’s claims to the right to develop the Escondido Country Club golf course.

In San Marcos, Poway and Oceanside the incumbents all prevailed, leaving conservative boards in Poway and San Marcos, with a split council in Oceanside.

Further south along the coast, in Solana Beach and Del Mar, several new faces will take the places of veterans like Lesa Heebner and Don Mosier, long-time council members who are stepping down.

The latest voter registration report from the San Diego Registrar of Voters shows Escondido, Poway, San Marcos, Oceanside and Carlsbad have a majority of Republican registered voters. In Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas and Vista, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans.

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