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Three seats in Chula Vista go to November runoff

We now know the six candidates who will be vying for Chula Vista mayor and two City Council seats this November after Tuesday's primary election results.

City Councilmember Mary Salas (43.75 percent of the vote) will face former high school principal Jerry Rindone (39.33 percent) in Chula Vista’s mayoral race. Councilmember Pamela Bensoussan came in third with 16.92 percent of the vote.

“I think this win in the primaries will reenergize my volunteers and bring more people onto support my bid for mayor,” Salas said. “I look forward to the rest of campaign and I thank the residents of Chula Vista who voted for me.”

Moving forward, Salas says she plans to continue her grassroots campaign, walking the street of Chula Vista and knocking on doors.

“We are going to build on our volunteers, walk to precincts and ask the residents what is important to them,” Salas said, adding that she is advocating for economic development in the city and water dependability.

Rindone could not be reached for comment. He is a retired educator of 38 years and spent 16 years on the Chula Vista City Council.

Chula Vista’s current Mayor Cheryl Cox is in the last year of her second term.

Current Councilmember Patricia Aguilar collected just 48.11 percent of the vote to keep seat two. She will face Dan Smith in the Nov. 4 runoff.

Aguilar and Smith were not available for comment.

In the race for Chula Vista’s first city council seat, Sweetwater Union High School District board member John McCann (38.48 percent of the vote) and former Chula Vista Mayor Steve Padilla (31.78 percent) will face one another.

Seat No. 1 is being vacated by termed-out Councilman Rudy Ramirez.

McCann had previously spent eight years on the Chula Vista City Council before being termed-out of his seat. He could not be reached for further comment.

Padilla said he was excited and humbled about Tuesday results, despite the low voter turnout.

“I am the only candidate that is supported by business and the labor force,” said Padilla. “I have the support of the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce, the Chula Vista Police Officers' Association and the San Diego Imperial County Labor Council.”

Padilla had been Chula Vista’s mayor from 2002-2006 before losing his re-election campaign to current Mayor Cheryl Cox. He also held a Chula Vista City Council seat from 1994-2002.

Salas hasn’t endorsed Padilla officially for City Council, but did say he is an “exceptionally bright person that has a lot of talents.”

“He did make a lot of mistakes in the past, but I do believe he has learned from them and I would prefer his experience on the council," Salas said. "I like the way he thinks.”

Padilla took paycheck advances from the city treasurer 10 times, and twice received double advances, as mayor, which was allowed under the city’s pay advance policy. He also received criticism for hiring a personal body guard who was paid $10,000 a month.

Padilla is also recognized for starting the conversation of a redevelopment plan for the city’s bayfront and a university park in the eastern part of Chula Vista.

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