The Coast News Group
Escondido Mayor Sam Abed. Photo by Shana Thompson
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Incumbents challenged, referenda decisions loom in Escondido, Vista

ESCONDIDO/VISTA — With 490,000 San Diego County votes yet to be tallied, incumbent candidate and Escondido Mayor Sam Abed is ahead in his race against Paul McNamara. Separated by about 1.5 percentage points, Abed leads by about 500 votes in a race with over 24,000 ballot counted as of 10:47 a.m. Nov. 7, according to San Diego County election information.

The competitive race follows on the heels of a contest which has sometimes seen tense back-and-forth verbal bouts within the public square between the candidates. Abed, if he wins, would commence a third term as mayor of the “hidden city.”

A changing of the guard appears destined to ensue, however, for one City Council seat. Challenger Consuelo Martinez leads incumbent Ed Gallo with over 58 percent of the vote to Gallo’s over 41 percent for the District 1 race.

“My team and I are proud of the grassroots campaign we ran and very pleased with the strong support shown in early voting results,” Martinez told The Coast News. “While there are still many ballots left to be counted, we are happy to see that voters are ready for change in Escondido.”

In the District 2 race, John Masson has a commanding lead, with a 53 percent tally. His second closest opponent, Vanessa Valenzuela, has 35 percent and Nicole Downey has 10 percent.

Vista’s mayoral race, by contrast, has become a runaway affair for incumbent candidate Judy Ritter, who has 52 percent of the vote. Her opponent, Joe Green, has 35 percent and trailing in third place is Dominic D’Agostini with 9 percent.

Two incumbent Vista City Council members also appear destined for victory. District 1 representative John Aguilera leads with over 54 percent to his opponent Corinna Contreras’ over 46 percent. In District 4, John Franklin has nearly 55 percent of the votes in to his opponent Tazheen Nizam’s 37 percent, while James Stuckrad has 7 percent of the vote.

Vista also has three marijuana-related ballot initiatives up for a vote, including Measure Z, which would legalize the selling of medical cannabis within city limits. Measure Z currently has more than 51 percent “yes” votes and over 48 percent voting “no,” a roughly 400 vote difference with over 15,000 people voting. Measure AA, which would create a business tax system for the medical marijuana industry in the city, also leads with on a similar percentage basis to Measure Z.

The competing Measure BB, which would create “up to three non-storefront (delivery only) retailers; authorizing up to two product safety testing laboratories; limiting these business to industrial-type zones; and authorizing and directing the City Council to establish licensing and operating regulations protecting public safety, health, security, and community welfare,” on the contrary, has not passed. It has clocked in with 55 percent “no” votes and 44 percent voting “yes.”

The San Diego County Office of the Registrar told The Coast News that these numbers will not be updated with another tally until 5 p.m. Nov. 8.