The council had three seats up for election, including two open seats, that will soon be filled by Republican candidates, effectively reversing the liberal majority that the council held for just two years.
Republican Mike Morasco, incumbent candidate in District 4, is projected to be joined by the winners in District 2 and District 3, respectively, Republicans Tina Inscoe, a business owner, and Joe Garcia, a church pastor.
For eight years, the council had a conservative majority until Democratic Councilwoman Consuelo Martinez and Mayor Paul McNamara were both elected two years ago, joining Democrat Olga Diaz.
Despite the council officially being a nonpartisan office, members’ political leanings and philosophies tend to play a part in the council’s agendas and voting patterns.
In past years, councilmembers’ political leanings have shaped decisions on issues like immigration enforcement and business regulation.
Martinez told The Coast News that this new shift will likely affect how the council responds to things like police reform and big development.
“As far as the positions they take concerning police reform, I think there will be a difference there because in public forums they’ve both stated that they don’t support an oversight committee … as well as with development, being that they accepted maximum contributions from developers for projects that aren’t on the agenda yet,” Martinez said. “Time will tell how they’ll vote on those things, but those are things that stand out for me.”
Martinez is referring to the upcoming vote on the controversial Harvest Hills high-end sprawl development, which the council still hasn’t set a date for.
As for police reform, Escondido’s city manager told The Coast News just last week that no decisions would be made about a police oversight committee until the new council is seated in December.
Personal politics will also likely come into play with upcoming decisions regarding climate action, COVID-19 recovery efforts, the city’s massive budget deficit and issues regarding Escondido’s large Latino community.
Furthermore, members will be responsible for hiring a new city manager after City Manager Jeffrey Epp officially retired in July.
“My advice for the new councilmembers would be to be open and to listen to all sides, I think that’s very important when making decisions, and people will respect you for that,” Martinez said. “The important thing is to keep the long-term vision in mind and continue doing the work regardless of the election outcome.”
Morasco, who has been a council member for 10 years, has seen the shift firsthand from an eight-year conservative majority to a two-year liberal majority. He told The Coast News that he’s interested to see what sort of discussions and changes these new perspectives will lead to.
“The first eight years were a pretty harmonious situation in regards to the council majority and the processes that we went through,” Morasco said. “Over the past two years, there’ve been some changes and some new things implemented that we’ll probably take a closer look at again and review and see what the new council majority desires to do.”
The installation ceremony for the new council is on Dec. 9.