ESCONDIDO — After hours spent interviewing candidates for the city’s District 2 seat, previously held by the late John Masson, the Escondido City Council adjourned its April 22 meeting without making an appointment.
The four council members — Mayor Paul McNamara, Deputy Mayor Consuelo Martinez, Olga Diaz and Mike Morasco — interviewed nine candidates for the vacant seat and lasted nearly three hours.
The council members narrowed the group down to five: Tina Ostrem Inscoe, a membership executive of the Escondido Chamber of Commerce; Vanessa Valenzuela, who ran against John Masson for the District 2 seat two years ago; Barbara C. Aguilar, a development specialist at Escondido Community Child Development Center; Scotty Lombardi, a business leader with broad human resources experience; and Richard Paul, a director at an electronics manufacturer in San Marcos.
Two candidates were then nominated, but each nomination failed.
Valenzuela, a Democrat, was nominated by Martinez, which was seconded by Diaz. However, the nomination was opposed by Morasco and McNamara.
Next was Inscoe, a Republican, who was nominated by Morasco. The nomination was seconded by McNamara but opposed by Martinez and Diaz.
Diaz then proposed a ranked-choice voting process, which both McNamara and Morasco opposed.
McNamara, a Democrat, told The Coast News that he chose not to vote along party lines because he was trying to be faithful to the voters of District 2.
“First of all, this is a nonpartisan race. Secondly, the goal is to find someone to replace John Masson,” McNamara said. “Do you pick someone who is aligned with your feelings and your views of the world, or do you pick someone who better represents John’s views of the world? The reality is that the majority of the people of District 2 picked John, and I want to honor that.”
The Coast News reached out to the Escondido Democratic Club, which said it’s “not taking a position at this time on who the City Council should appoint to fill the vacant seat. However, the EDC did endorse Vanessa Valenzuela for that seat in the 2018 election. As we get closer to the November election that will select the permanent city council member for that district, the EDC will hold its usual endorsement process, inviting all Democratic candidates to speak to our membership, and then holding a membership endorsement vote.”
The council will revisit the appointment at its next meeting on May 6. If a candidate is appointed, they will serve until November. They will then have the opportunity to run in the election for the remaining two years of Masson’s term.
“I nominated a candidate who I felt had the most depth of knowledge,” Martinez said. [Valenzuela] knew a lot about the issues, she’s already involved in a lot of the work in the platforms that she was advocating for and I think she could work well with the council. Although I am glad that there’s an election coming up because I do think the most democratic thing is for the people of District 2 to choose who they want to represent them.”
If the City Council fails to agree on a candidate on May 6, the District 2 seat will remain vacant until the Nov. 3 election.