John McCann leading in race for Chula Vista mayor
Early election results show John McCann leading Ammar Campa-Najjar in the race for Chula Vista Mayor with 54% of the vote.
If the results hold up, McCann, a Republican, will be Chula Vista’s first new mayor in eight years. Term limits prevent current Mayor Mary Casillas Salas from running for reelection.
"We’ve been successful in doing a lot of great things including the bayfront, public safety, making sure that we are one of the safest cities in the county," McCann said during a phone interview Tuesday night. "We don’t take anything for granted but we are hopeful that we'll continue to keep the lead."
The mayoral election was initially framed as one between experience and new ideas.
McCann and Campa-Najjar ran on similar platforms — they both pledged to hire more police officers, attract more businesses to Chula Vista, complete the bayfront development project and address homelessness.
McCann has been on the City Council for 16 years. He pitched himself as the stable choice.
Campa-Najjar ran two unsuccessful congressional campaigns in the East County before this election. He criticized city leaders for failing to address homelessness and providing enough oversight to a police department as it expanded its use of surveillance technology.
Campa-Najjar declined to comment Tuesday night.
The campaign took a tense turn when McCann questioned Campa-Najjar’s residency status in Chula Vista.
Campa-Najjar spent eight years claiming East San Diego County — going as far as saying, “I’m a Jamuligan,” and, “I was born and raised in East County.”
But during his mayoral run, Campa-Najjar began to be more vocal about his South Bay roots — including that he graduated from Sweetwater High School and went to Southwestern College.
McCann hired a private investigator to follow Campa-Najjar and his family around San Diego. The investigator took several pictures of Campa-Najjar entering and exiting a Bankers Hill apartment building that belongs to his partner, Democratic Congressmember Sara Jacobs, who represents the 53rd District.
Campa-Najjar condemned the investigation as an invasion of his privacy. He also compared it to racist “birther” arguments used to question the legitimacy of former president Barack Obama.
Whoever ends up winning will take over a city with a structural budget deficit and a growing homeless population. Chula Vista also faces multiple lawsuits from cannabis companies who did not get business licenses.