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Election Roundup: Jones cruises past Walton; Gaasterland, Worden win top-two

REGION — San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones will maintain her seat for another four-year term after a sweeping defeat over challenger Councilman Randy Walton, whose District 2 seat will be filled by Mike Sannella after prevailing in a four-person race. 

Jones, who led Walton by around 6,400 votes, has served on the council for 16 years, with the last four in the mayor’s seat. Walton is currently serving his first term on the council.

Sannella, a current Vallecitos Water District Board Member, continues to lead in the District 2 race over candidates Jay Petrek, Lionel Saulsberry and Ambreen Ahmed. Councilwoman Maria Nuñez was re-elected to her District 1 City Council seat after running unopposed for a second term. 

Del Mar/Solana Beach

In Del Mar, incumbents Councilwoman Terry Gaasterland and Councilman Dwight Worden were the top two vote-getters and are set to remain on the council. Challenger Steve Quirk, identical twin brother of Councilman Dan Quirk, trailed slightly behind Worden.

Solana Beach City Councilwoman Kristi Becker was re-elected to her position in the District 2 race over challenger Kristin Brinner. Jill Macdonald will serve on the council’s District 4 seat after running unopposed.

San Dieguito Union High School District

A majority of the San Dieguito Union High School District board will be made up of new faces next year after newcomers prevailed in three competitive races, including a parent’s apparent defeat of incumbent Trustee Julie Bronstein in the Area 5 race.

Parent Phan Anderson maintains her lead in the Area 5 race over incumbent Bronstein, appointed to her seat in the fall of 2021, and fellow challenger Georgia Ringler. 

“We worked hard to get my message out, and voters are making it clear that I am the parent’s and community’s choice to represent them on the board,” Anderson said, noting that there still remain votes to be counted. 

Bronstein initially opted not to comment until more votes had been counted, but submitted a written statement on Nov. 16 conceding the race.

“As the counting of votes by county election officials has continued, it has become clear to me that there is no longer a path for me to win this election,” Bronstein wrote. “It has been an honor serving our district over the past year. I am forever grateful to the many generous, kind and thoughtful people who care passionately about providing a high-quality public education for all of our students.”

In the Area 3 race, former special education teacher Jane Lea Smith placed around 2,800 votes ahead of competitor Sheila King, who faced controversy just days before the election after allegedly hosting a party where two boys were later stabbed. Georgia Ringler came in third place.

Smith thanked King and her supporters for advocating for district issues that were important to them.

“I appreciated hearing from her supporters and from mine about the issues that were important to them, and I’m tremendously grateful to the community volunteers who helped to spread the word about my candidacy,” Smith said. “I am optimistic about our district’s future and look forward to working alongside my fellow board members to address our challenges and celebrate our students’ successes.”

Former Encinitas Union School District trustee Rimga Viskanta maintains a wide lead in the Area 1 race against parent David Carattini, surpassing him by 2,100 votes. 

Despite board positions being nonpartisan, party politics played a large part in this year’s election for the embattled district, which has faced a series of controversies, many related to dysfunction on the board itself, over the past year. 

The board held a conservative majority for the past year until the resignation of Trustee Melisse Mossy in April, which left the board split 2-2 on many decisions. The Republican-endorsed Anderson joins current Trustee Michael Allman in the board’s conservative minority.

Encinitas City Council

In Encinitas, all but one of the city council races had been decided at the time of this story. 

Councilman Tony Kranz, currently representing District 1, has won enough votes to guarantee his election to become the city’s next mayor, replacing Blakespear. In District 4, former planning chairman Bruce Ehlers will be the next council member to hold the seat after defeating opponent Pamela Redela. 

However, election results for the District 3 race remained far from certain, even after the weekend. 

Incumbent Councilwoman Joy Lyndes continues to hold a slight lead consisting of 168 votes — or 51.31% to 48.69% — over challenger Julie Thunder. But Lyndes’ lead narrowed slightly on Monday, down from a nearly five-point lead over Thunder last week. 

It’s unknown how many ballots are left to be counted in the race, although Thunder said from her own analysis that the number is likely between 700-1,500. 

“The gap between me and Joy is tightening each day-the only question is how many more ballots are there to count, and there are ways to estimate that but no way of knowing for sure,” Thunder said. “I’m still hopeful that I’ll be the council rep for D3, and this is just a tough wait right now.”

Thunder expressed some frustration with the county Registrar of Voters, describing the long wait times for election results as unacceptable, especially compared to past elections when results were available sooner. 

“I’m frustrated as I’m sure my opponent is that the SD County Registrar is going dark a second time for 48 hours,” Thunder said, referencing that the next batch of ballots would not be counted until Wednesday. “Ten years ago, we had less technology and races were decided twenty-four hours to a couple of days at most. Now we’re on day seven, and it’s with a small race like mine with less than 10,000 ballots — and you still have an unknown result. It’s really disappointing.”

Lyndes could not be reached in time to comment for this story.  

— Stephen Wyer

Carlsbad City Council

Voters have elected Keith Blackburn as mayor in a landslide over challenger Mike Curtin.

Blackburn garnered 70% of the vote according to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, although roughly 500,000 ballots have yet to be counted.

The District 1 council race, meanwhile, is locked in a battle as Melanie Burkholder holds a nearly 4-point lead (213 votes) over Sam Ward, while DeeDee Trejo-Rowlett is a distant third.

In the District 3 race for City Council, incumbent Priya Bhat-Patel appears headed toward her second term as she held a 54-46 lead over Carlsbad Unified School District Trustee Ray Pearson. Should Pearson lose, he will keep his seat on the CUSD Board of Trustees.

As for the other races, incumbent City Treasurer Craig Lindholm blew past challenger Lance Schulte,  leading 66% to 34%.

Sherry Freisinger, who ran unopposed, is the new city clerk.

The closest city-level race is Measure J, which would authorize the City Council to spend up to $24 million to renovate the Monroe Street Pool.

As of Nov. 10, the measure is failing by 81 votes as 15,000 have voted against it and 14,919 are in support.

As for the CUSD Board of Trustee races, Michele Ward leads Sharon McKeeman 55% to 44% (about 300 votes) for the Area 1 seat.

Gretch Vurbeff holds a 54-46 margin (about 400 votes) over Jennifer Fornal and incumbent Trustee Kathy Rallings leads Scott Davison, 56% to 44%, or less than 400 votes.

— Steve Puterski

Oceanside City Council

In District 1, incumbent Councilmember Kori Jensen  trails Oceanside Unified school board member Eric Joyce, 40.63% to  33.51%,  as of Nov. 15. Darin Selnick came in third at 18.69% while Alvin McGee received 3.66% and David Turgeon received 3.51%.

Retired fire chief Rick Robinson holds a 7-point lead over South Morro Hills resident Daniel Dominguez for the council’s District 2 seat. 

While Robinson’s lead is strong, he expressed some leftover nerves about the election.

“I’ve had so many people congratulate me who track elections enough to say I have a big enough lead where I don’t need to worry, but my nature is to worry until I get that official notification,” Robinson said. “But it does look really good.”

In the races for the Oceanside Unified School District board seats, candidates Nancy Licona and Allyson Mineau faced each other to take over Trustee Area 1, currently held by Joyce. Licona appears to have won the seat with nearly 61% of the vote so far. 

Trustee Raquel Alvarez, who represents Trustee Area 4 and serves as the board’s vice president, will keep her seat after sweeping the election against phantom candidate Tigran Ghukasyan. Trustee Stacy Begin, who represents Trustee Area 3, ran unopposed and will remain on the board. 

— Samantha Nelson

1 comment

steve333 November 16, 2022 at 1:02 pm

The D3 delay is why many people don’t trust the election results. There is no excuse for such a long delay.
I am shocked that Julie Thunder didn’t win easily.

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