Cate Defeats Kim For San Diego City Council District 6 Seat; Democrats Lose Supermajority
UPDATE 1:21 a.m. Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s veto power is back. A final update from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters shows Republican Chris Cate easily winning the San Diego City Council District 6 seat over opponent Democrat Carol Kim. With 100 percent of votes counted, Cate won 55 percent to Kim's 45 percent. That's a difference of 2,244 votes.
Earlier in the night when KPBS spoke to Council President Todd Gloria, a Democrat and Kim supporter, he said the supermajority wasn't that big of a deal.
"Partisan make up is really often a big deal in Sacramento and Washington D.C. It’s not really as important at the local level where essentially we deal with pot holes and stop signs — there aren’t really partisan ways to address both of those issues," Gloria said.
Faulconer said he's looking forward to working with Cate — again. The 31-year-old vice president of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association worked for Faulconer when he was a councilman.
“He has the right combination of background, experience, and just common sense that I think is exactly what this city needs," Faulconer said.
UPDATE 12:19 a.m. Latest results show Cate holding lead with 89 percent of votes counted.
UPDATE 11:44 p.m. Nearly two-thirds of the vote are in and Cate's lead grows to 10 points over Kim.
Cate, a Republican, already declared victory.
"I’m really looking forward to getting started and getting to work," he told KUSI. "The campaign is the easy part."
UPDATE 11:21 p.m.: Republican Chris Cate maintains his 8-point lead over Democrat Carol Kim with 52 percent of the vote counted now.
UPDATE 10:31 p.m.: Republican Chris Cate claimed victory in the race for San Diego City Council District 6.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer introduced Cate, the Vice President of the Taxpayers Association, to a rowdy crowd of supporters at the U.S. Grant.
"I have your best interests at heart," he told supporters at the hotel in downtown San Diego.
With 23 percent of the vote counted, latest results show Cate has 54 percent, while Kim has 46 percent.
If the lead holds, the City Council's Democrats will lose their supermajority.
Kim seemed optimistic.
"We may still close the gap, you never know, so we're not going to close up shop yet," Kim said. "Regardless of the final outcome, I'm so proud of what we've done together."
UPDATE 10:21 p.m.: The latest update shows a minimal change. Republican Chris Cate still leads Democrat Carol Kim by nearly 9 points.
Speaking with KUSI News, Kim seemed defeated, but said she was proud of her campaign.
"I don’t know that I would have done anything differently," she said.
She said her opponent's campaign funds were tough to overcome.
If Cate wins, the council's Democrats no longer have a veto-proof majority, which gave them the two-thirds vote they needed to overturn any item vetoed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Council President Todd Gloria, a Democrat, said political make up at the local level is not as important as it is at the state and federal levels.
"Essentially we deal with pot holes and stop signs, there aren't really partisan ways to deal with those issues," he told KPBS News.
UPDATE 8:07 p.m.: With 12 percent reporting, first results show Republican Chris Cate leads Democrat Carol Kim by nearly 9 percentage points. Cate has 54 percent of the vote. Kim has 46 percent.
The Democrats’ supermajority on the nine-member San Diego City Council is on the line in Tuesday's election.
Republican Chris Cate and Democrat Carol Kim are running in District 6, the only open council seat. Winning the spot means more than just representing the communities of Clairemont, Mira Mesa, Miramar, Kearny Mesa and the southern part of Rancho Peñasquitos. The winner will either maintain the Democrats’ supermajority or return veto power back to the Republican mayor.
Although council seats are officially nonpartisan, the council currently has six Democrats and three Republicans. This means the Democrats have the two-thirds vote they need to overturn any item vetoed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer. A Kim win would mean the veto-proof majority remains. If Cate prevails, Faulconer would get his veto power back.
The race between Cate and Kim has drawn nearly $2 million in campaign spending by the candidates and independent committees supporting them. At times, the race has turned tense. They have debated over voting records, campaign promises and where their support comes from, but things really heated up when Kim called a news conference in early October and accused Cate of tax fraud. Cate attributed the mistake to an error on the county’s part and criticized Kim for misleading voters.
Kim, a mother of two who taught elementary school in Los Angeles, said her focus is on education. She currently evaluates grant programs for an education nonprofit. She said she’s already reached out to school board members to discuss possible collaboration between the school district and the City Council. Cate has criticized Kim for saying in her campaign material that she will work to shrink classroom sizes, something he said the City Council can’t do.
Cate, vice president of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, moved to the district in 2012 from Carlsbad. He said he also lived in the area while studying at the University of San Diego. He operated a small business in Kearny Mesa while attending college but said he is no longer connected to the company. Cate said he wants to grow jobs and discusses his ideas in a four-page plan. In it, he points to expanding job-training programs and increasing trade with the Pacific Rim.
Kim, whose parents started a small business after moving to the U.S. from South Korea, said she also supports businesses in the area.
The district is currently represented by Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, but she ran for re-election in District 2 when her Bay Ho home was drawn out of District 6 during the redistricting process four years ago. She beat opponent Sarah Boot outright in the June primary.