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Two council seats and mayoral office up for grabs in Vista

VISTA — Eight candidates for three separate seats will test their luck in running for office on Nov. 6 in Vista’s local election.

The mayoral seat, currently held by Mayor Judy Ritter, is on the ballot with three contestants. So, too, are the City Council seats for District 1, with two candidates, and District 4, with three candidates.

The mayoral race features Ritter and two opponents. One of them is her City Council colleague Joe Green, who represents District 2 and runs a housing real estate company named Green Team Realty. The other, Dominic D’Agostini, has never held an elected office and does real estate project management for local businesses.

Ritter, a conservative longtime resident of Vista who has come out against the California Values Act (SB 52) — which put limits on what local law enforcement agencies can do as it relates to immigration enforcement efforts — has served as mayor of Vista for eight years.

“While serving as mayor Ritter has reduced crime to its twenty year low, added a fourth ambulance, three new fire engines, new fire stations, improved existing stations, and had the Vista Fire Department become one of the only departments in the US to be accredited,” Ritter touts on her website. “Vista’s financial position has improved to a 29% reserve.”

Green, as a juxtaposition, has been outspoken in his stance on the California Values Act, saying the city should not weigh in on the issue at all. Or if it does, it should take a more compassionate approach to the immigration issue, calling that approach the “Vista Values Act.” D’Agostini, who says he is a Republican, said he initially supported the city’s posture on the issue, but after doing research, has decided to buck the party line and come out against the city’s stance on the legislation.

The two-way District 1 race features the incumbent Deputy Mayor John Aguilera duking it out with challenger Corinna Contreras.

Aguilera has called for the city to come up with a strategic plan to address homelessness, and to “continue to decrease blight and improve (the) city’s image” through economic development.

Taking a different spin on things, Contreras has made what she has called inclusive economic development a key campaign issue.

“Inclusive economic development means finding ways to equally distribute economic development throughout the city, not just in some areas,” reads her campaign website. “We have many neighborhoods that need services, and I want to make sure there is a plan in place to provide what is necessary to make these neighborhoods thrive.”

For District 4, the three-way race features the incumbent John Franklin going up against both Tazheen Nizam and James Stuckrad.

Franklin, while serving on the City Council, simultaneously also serves as a major power broker within the San Diego County Republican Party, running the electoral campaigns of 49th U.S. Congressional District candidate Diane Harkey and Escondido Mayor Sam Abed. He does that through his campaign consultancy company, Pacific Political, Inc. Franklin says he has three main campaign priorities: public safety, a balanced budget and more efficient and smooth traffic flow. Beyond that, he has also called for the elimination of blight as part of the city’s economic development plan.

On her campaign website, Nizam prods Franklin — who has received endorsements from several well-connected politicians — without naming him. She says she is not a “career politician” and will not take any corporate money for her campaign.

“We need fresh eyes, new ideas and better communication between our city government and our residents. I am not a career politician, I am a resident who wants our community to thrive while maintaining the values of Vista,” says Nizam.

Stuckrad has placed his emphasis on issues of public safety and policing, as well as tackling homelessness.

“My top priorities include Public Safety, I will work hard to insure the Sheriffs Department and Vista Fire Department has the staff and equipment it needs to provide a safe environment for our residents,” reads his campaign website. “I will work with other organizations to provide resources to address the concerns of the increasing homeless population as well as to provide the homeless with a place to call home, receive the treatment and/or counseling they need to get back on their feet including job placement services.”

Three different marijuana-related ballot initiatives — Measure AA, Measure BB and Measure Z — will also receive a vote on Election Day in Vista.