Though neither of the Chula Vista City Council races was settled after Tuesday night’s primary, one candidate was confident that come December there’d be a new face on the dais.
“No Chula Vista City Council person has been reelected after receiving less than 43 percent of the vote in the primary with the extraordinary exception of Steve Castaneda,” said Larry Breitfelder, who is challenging Pamela Bensoussan for seat 3. “This will be a historic turning point.”
Breitfelder’s lead was relatively slim. After the first wave of results were tallied he led by 929 votes. The Registrar of Voters notes that absentee and provisional ballots still need to be counted and the final results in all the races could change.
Bensoussan’s reaction to the initial results was to point out that she was vastly outspent by special interests.
“I’m confident that come November, voters will reelect an independent proven leadership,” she said. “…The voters will see through my opponent’s smear tactics. I’m proud to have run a clean and honest campaign.”
Meanwhile the race for seat 4 saw a larger gap between frontrunners Maray Salas and Linda Wagner, who are competing to take over for termed out Steve Castaneda.
Initial reports showed Salas with 9,466 votes while Wagner, who has served eight years as Castaneda’s aide, pulled in 5,379 votes. Though the margin wasn’t enough to declare Salas the outright winner, if after the remaining ballots are counted and she comes away with 50 percent of the vote plus one, Salas would win.
Salas previously served on the Chula Vista City Council for eight years, but after serving in the State Assembly and then losing her bid for State Senate, she has decided to return to her roots.
“I’m really happy about the lead that I’ve taken and I’m looking forward to running another positive campaign in November,” she said.
One clear winner, however, wasn’t a candidate but a proposition.
Prop. C, which puts term limits on the Chula Vista City Attorney’s Office and significantly reduces that office’s salary, garnered 54.05 percent of the 20,108 votes cast Tuesday.
The measure, which critics say was rushed through to the ballot by a majority of the council with an ulterior motive, was supported in large part by real estate investor Earl Jentz.
“Voters were presented on both sides of the issue and voters have spoken,” he said.
Councilman Rudy Ramirez — who lost his own bid to advance to the State Assembly — was responsible for bringing the initiative to the council and said he was happy.
“I’m looking forward to working with the city to craft a response to the voters; I will on that item and continue to work to structure that office to make sure it is depolitcized,” he said.
But now that Prop. C has passed, the City Attorney’s Office has been undermined said critic John Moot.
“I think if you put term limits on something, people don’t really pay attention to what comes after that and unfortunately what came after that was a purely vindictive event to undo the results of the city attorney election two years ago,” Moot said.
Chula Vista’s City Attorney Googins shared a similar sentiment.
“I am disappointed that a majority of the City Council proposed the measure in the first place and that the item was rushed onto the ballot without proper public review or input,” he said.
Googins said the measure is bad public policy with the potential for negative impacts on the quality, independence and consistency of legal advice.
Googins said he will work with the City Council to implement Prop. C.