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Runoff in District 1 could tilt City Council to the right

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The race for San Diego City Council District 7 could be over. Scott Sherman appears to be in, pending the certification of ballots once the final absentee counts are determined. Over in District 1, the fight will go on, as incumbent Sherri Lightner held on Tuesday to force a runoff against Ray Ellis, who for much of the night appeared within striking distance of an outright 50 percent-plus-one win.

When it was all said and done, barring any late changes in ballot counts, Ellis, a Republican business owner, outperformed Lightner, drawing more than 45 percent of the vote compared to Lightner’s nearly 42 percent.

Lightner seemed in good spirits Wednesday — and confident, going so far as to say she would not lose in November.

“We expected a tough race because it was a targeted race,” Lightner said. “We did well.”

She expects the higher voter turnout expected in November to work to her advantage.

“We’ll win. There’s no problem,” she said. “We’ll continue on with what we’re doing.”

Tuesday was a night of potential council shake-ups.

While Councilman Todd Gloria won re-election to his seat in District 3 in an uncontested election, and business owner Mark Kersey took advantage of an otherwise empty ballot to take the District 5 seat — currently occupied by Councilman and San Diego mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio — the District 1 and District 7 races had in them the keys to philosophical balance on the Council.

As it stands, the San Diego City Council, though technically nonpartisan, leans to the left, with five Democrats seated and three Republicans. A newly created District 9 was easily won Tuesday by current District 7 Councilwoman Marti Emerald, who wasn’t able to run for re-election in District 7 because of redistricting. She took the seat by a nearly 45 percent margin over opponent Mateo Camarillo.

Emerald's win didn’t change things much for the Council. But Sherman’s apparent victory takes a seat previously held by a Democrat and puts a Republican in it. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the Registrar of Voters reports Sherman to be in the lead with 51 percent of the vote, leading his Democrat competitor Mat Kostrinsky, who pulled in 39.39 percent and needed to hold Sherman to 50 percent or less to force a runoff. Independent Rik Hauptfeld stood in third place with 5.6 percent of the vote and Nathan E. Johnson managed 4.02 percent.

In April, the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council introduced the“Working Families Report Card,” an assessment of the Council’s votes on 24 issues facing the city’s work force.

Five councilmembers received failing scores, including Lightner, who is often described as being backed by labor unions. According to the report card, Lighner voted “for working families” 54 percent of the time in regards to the 24 issues.

If Lightner is successful against Ellis in November, the Council would continue to lean left, with five Democrats and four Republicans seated. But if Ellis wins the runoff, the 5-4 situation would be reversed.

Lightner and Ellis were followed in the District 1 contest by Brian Pease, who earned 7.22 percent of the vote and Dennis Ridz, who finished with 5.6 percent. Wednesday’s figures show that 22,153 votes were cast between all candidates in District 1, 19,312 of which were for either Ellis or Lightner.

Ballot counts are to be certified by July 3.

When asked what’s to be taken from even a chance that the Council could sway right for the first time in years, Lightner said it could come down to how much money is spent on the campaigns.

“I’m proud to run on my record,” she said. “I’ve done a very, very good job of representing the people of District 1, and I look forward to doing that again.”

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City of San Diego

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San Diego, CA 92101

City of San Diego Executive(s):

Sherri Lightner

  • Council President Pro Tem

Kevin Faulconer

  • Mayor

Todd Gloria

  • Council President

Myrtle Cole

  • City Council Member

Mark Kersey

  • City Council Member

Lorie Zapf

  • City Council Member

Scott Sherman

  • City Council Member

David Alvarez

  • City Council Member

Marti Emerald

  • City Council Member

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