Mayor Abed And Fellow GOP Councilmen Prevail In Escondido
UPDATE: 12:30 a.m. Incumbents win in Escondido elections.
As Republicans made gains on the national scene, the Republican establishment held tight to its control over Escondido City Hall.
Three out of five seats on the Escondido City Council were up grabs Tuesday, and incumbent Republicans won all of them.
Incumbent mayor Sam Abed defeated Democratic challenger Olga Diaz who is still a member of the Escondido City Council. Although Abed is the mayor, his powers are equivalent to those of a member of the council.
Another incumbent councilman, Ed Gallo, defeated challenger Consuelo Martinez. Another incumbent councilman, John Masson, came out well ahead of three challengers.
Democrats were hoping the city's growing Latino population could break the Republican hold on City Hall, while the GOP is working to stay in power.
Diaz is the first Latina to serve on the Escondido City Council, and she’s currently the only Democrat on the council.
This election is the first to be held under the city’s new district voting system. Last year the city switched from citywide voting for City Council members to district voting to settle a lawsuit alleging that the previous voting system diluted the power of traditionally disenfranchised groups, primarily Latinos.
Latinos make up more than half of the population in Escondido. District 1 is the most heavily Latino district, which supporters of candidate Martinez hope will give her the edge.
Gallo and Abed have touted their strong fiscal management of the city, and sought to distance themselves from past decisions considered hostile — and in some cases illegal — toward immigrants.
“If you don't commit a crime, you are welcome to live in Escondido,” Abed told KPBS in September. “We have to grow as one community. Assimilation, unity, inclusiveness is the best way, and we have done that.”
Diaz and Martinez both say they want to change the city’s image.
“Escondido needs to be thought of as a community that welcomes everyone,” Diaz said. “And everyone can raise a family here and grow their business here.”
The city’s District 2 council seat is also up for grabs. Incumbent John Masson faces three challengers: Nicole Downey, Chad Hunziker and Rick Paul.