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North County Election Update: Coastal Cities Becoming More Liberal

A stretch of beach near the Oceanside Pier is seen in this photo, October 2016.
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?
North County Election Update: Coastal Cities Becoming More Liberal? GUEST: Alison St John, North County reporter, KPBS

The election results are not the only surprised to come out of the North County in fact there are indications that some areas of conservative North County are becoming more liberal and more diverse. I am joined by Alison St John. Welcome to the program. Thank you. With the Council going on we have to remember that if San Diego votes where the only ones accounted Darrell Issa would have already lost . Does this indicate a big change in the district in San Diego? I think that it's more of a subtle change in a couple factors at play and there were a lot of Darrell Issa with Donald Trump and then has been a challenge for him to overcome and then the other thing is I think the coastal districts -- area is becoming more moderate and we are seeing that that was why the Escondido Marielle -- Mayor had trouble of beating Kristin Gaspar because there is definitely a feeling that the coastal areas are becoming more aware of the environment and sea level rise and the inland areas of the more traditional Republican areas. So the district doesn't run down the coast. Speaking of that race we are talking about Kristin Gaspar challenging a democratic supervisor Dave Dusty Roberts that race was closed and it seems to be getting closer. That is interesting because of the date Dave Roberts has 54 % of the votes. So it is closing and that gap is closing. Even Kristin Gaspar's consultant had said that in 75% of the time these races tend to veer more towards the Democrat and the more progressive side so it's interesting to watch this because it is counterintuitive and tightening up. It seems to go back and forth between the Democrats making some gains in North County and it is still being somewhat of a Republican stronghold. Talk to us about the city Council especially Carlsbad. In general, the most that most of the city Council are very much dominated by Republicans however Carlsbad now I think you remember the very contentious vote in February over the plan to build a big development on the strawberry field and not really mobilize people in Carlsbad and where they haven't been woken up to help their city was changing and how they wanted to have more of a say. So Carly Shoemaker is a veteran of that campaign and she is not connected right now leading and hurt lead is growing over Lorene would. She would be the first Democrat anyone can ever remember being elected to the city Council. Dennis when indication of things changing in the coastal city. And then in Encinitas there are three more candidates on that counsel and one is the mayor who defeated Paul Gaspar. So that will have to replace her as well and it looks as though that city is definitely becoming more leaning. We've seen how the city of San Diego turned blue a few years ago at this point they have more democratic registered voters whereas Carlsbad, Oceanside, San Marcos are so more Republican registered voters. There is a shift that we are seeing towards more Democratic voters. Let's talk about growth issues because basically all of the growth issues in the North County were defeated. Well, actually, there was a measure in Delmar where they defeated a plan that would have meant that Delmar residents would've had to vote on any large development. So that was taking a step back and sing become blocked because will be up against lawsuits but in the case of Encinitas that is right. They had measures on the ballot that would've allowed in the case of the hotel and the golf course and there was a plan that would've allowed quite a bit more density but still in restricted pockets but they felt they needed to pass that because otherwise they're not complying with state law on spending a lot of public money. Even that felt so they are still up against this issue of how to grow. I think that is almost more than party affiliation. Most of them we -- one I think that I thought was interesting was Cody Campbell lost his seat and I've heard various reasons as to why that might of been. Also the fact that he did have some financial support from developers. People were soak in some kind of development did not like to see that. I think we have to be aware that developers are not all bad and we have to grow somehow. So candidates were running for office and they might have a bit of a challenge to balance the pressures to grow and meet state law and accommodate the growing population of people who are against development. From someone who knows the North County so while, Allison, thank you for that. We still have to watch some of the races. Yes, they're not over yet. But I've been speaking with Alison St John. Thank you. My pleasure, Maureen.

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.

The North County Focus newsletter is your bi-weekly guide to all the news coming from North County, plus a handpicked selection of events and trivia tidbits.