Councilwoman Sherri Lightner won her bid to retain her seat in San Diego’s first district, ensuring Democrats retain their council majority.
Lightner won by nearly 10 points, 54.18 percent to 45.82 percent, over Republican businessman Ray Ellis in the race to represent a district that covers from La Jolla to Rancho Penasquitos. She has a 3,365 vote lead with 100 percent of precincts reporting.
She declared victory early in the night, with Ellis heading home from the Lincoln Club’s election night party while results were still pouring in.
Election officials also announced there are 475,000 absentee and provisional ballots countywide still to be counted.
An Ellis win in District 1 would have given the Republicans a majority on the council and mean president pro tem Kevin Faulconer would be the new council president. Instead, Lightner’s victory maintains Democratic control and likely allows Council President Tony Young to maintain control of the gavel.
Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Bob Filner has a 3 percent lead in the mayoral race over his Republican opponent, Councilman Carl DeMaio. If his lead holds through the counting of provisional ballots, the city will have its first Democratic mayor since 1992 along with a Democrat-controlled council.
“We have two (mayoral) candidates who are very different from each other, and I think it represents the polarization of the electorate,” Young said. “I think it’s going to be my goal and the council’s goal to get all the partisans to come together and bring us back together and start working on the issues that are important to the city of San Diego. That’s going to be our challenge.”
On citywide issues, the Lightner-Ellis race became something of a referendum on each candidate’s commitment to pension reform, especially in terms of the voter-approved pension reform initiative Proposition B.
Ellis, who previously served on the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System (SDCERS), took an early position in favor of the initiative. Lightner stayed silent on Prop. B for much of the primary before announcing her support.
The Ellis campaign has pointed to Lightner's vote not to allow the city to pay for outside counsel to defend a legal challenge facing the initiative as evidence that he would be a stronger vote in its favor.
Lightner didn’t receive the backing of the influential San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, losing the group’s powerful get-out-the-vote effort, in part because of her support of Prop. B.
Local issues of relevance in District 1 included the Regents Road Bridge, which Lightner opposes and Ellis says is of secondary importance to overall street repair, and the One Paseo development, which both candidates oppose.
As in the mayor’s race, street repairs and the city’s infrastructure repair backlog were of central importance. Lightner, as the incumbent, argued the city had taken hold of the problem with the largest street repair program in history. Ellis said the city wasn’t doing enough, and pledged to divert new city revenue to increased repaving services. Lightner said she’d prioritize public safety services instead.
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Sept. 23, 2014 -- George Chamberlin speaks with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer about the importance of the military on San Diego's economy at a presentation of the San Diego Military Advisory Council’s sixth annual Military Economic Impact Study.