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Vote count complete, Gallo wins by 69

Escondido Council member Ed Gallo will go down in political history as a survivor. You may not want to compare him to a cat, but he does seem to have extra political lives.

The 2014 vote count is now complete (though not official) and Gallo eked out a win in the new District One by just 69 votes, 1,664 to 1,595 for Consuelo Martinez, the Democratic challenger. This follows his oh-so-narrow win by just 43 votes in his previous 2010 city-wide election, when he beat former Mayor Lori Holt-Pfeiler 9,970 to 9,927. And don’t forget that the first time Olga Diaz was elected to the Council in 2008, she beat out Gallo 17,153 to 15,085 and left him out of office for two years.

We have already mentioned the importance of turnout. Note that in District One, the total votes cast were 3,259. In nearby District Two, where incumbent appointee John Masson was handily elected, the total vote was 8,233. Thus in districts with nearly equal populations of voting age, District One had significantly fewer than half as many voters.

Election debrief: It was all about turnout

President Don Greene speaks to Escondido Democrats in the nearly dismantled campaign office.

President Don Greene speaks to Escondido Democrats in the nearly dismantled campaign office.

Escondido Democrats met Saturday, November 8 to discuss what happened on election day and what to do about it. President Don Greene opened the discussion with a slide that read “It’s not Republican voters who elect Republican politicians… It’s Democratic voters WHO STAY HOME that elect Republicans…” and that statement pretty much summed up the analysis of the disappointing outcomes of November 4, 2014.

Continue reading…

Voters choose Abed, Gallo, school bonds; soundly reject charter, Lakes Initiative

It was a long night for Escondido progressives and the waiting produced mostly disappointment. (180,000 absentee and provisional ballots remain to be counted.) With 100 percent of precincts counted:

Mayor: Sam Abed was re-elected, 60.59 percent (12,190) to 33.82 percent (6,805) for Deputy Mayor Olga Diaz. Stephen Siaw received 5.59 percent (1,125) of the votes.

Council District One: Incumbent Ed Gallo was re-elected with 53.94 percent (1,252) of the votes. Challenger Consuelo Martinez received 46.06 percent (1,069) of the votes.

Council District Two: Incumbent John Masson was re-elected with 50.40 percent (3,108) of the votes. Rick Paul received 23.25 percent (1,434); Nicole Downey received 15.78 percent (973); Chad “Shad” Hunziker received 10.57 percent (652) of the votes.

Measure E: Voters approved elementary school bonds with 55.55 pecent (13,155) voting in favor, 44.45 percent (10,527) voting against. The law requires 55 percent approval.

Measure G: Voters soundly rejected a change to charter city status with 62.85 percent (11,923) voting against, 37.15 percent (7,048) voting in favor.

Measure H: Voters soundly rejected the proposed Lakes development on the Escondido Country Club golf course with 60.88 percent (12,060) voting against and 39.12 percent (7,750) voting in favor.

Schools: In Escondido Union High School area two, Bill Durney defeated Lou Barrios 56.59 percent (2,844) to 43.41 percent (2,182). In Escondido Union High School area five, Jon Petersen defeated Georgine Tomasi 67.92 percent (3,751) to 32.08 percent (1,772). In Escondido Union (elementary) School area four, Zesty Harper defeated Marty Hranek 60.23 percent (2,403) to 39.77 percent (1,587).

Read coverage of propositions in UT San Diego. 
Read coverage of Mayor/Council races in UT San Diego. 
Read commentary in UT San Diego.
Read coverage of Measure H from KPBS.
Read coverage of Mayor/Council from KPBS. 

Get complete San Diego County election results from the Registrar of Voters.
Get complete State of California results from the Secretary of State.

Abed: “Why would someone like you support someone like her?”

by Irv Lefberg

Photo of Mayor Sam AbedThe Mayor’s revealing question about my support for Olga Diaz: “Why would someone like you support someone like her?”

That’s the question I was asked by the Mayor awhile back when I talked with him at his booth at a Street Faire in downtown Escondido.   I was wearing my “Olga Diaz for Mayor” shirt, and thought it might be interesting to ask the Mayor a few wonkish questions about fiscal issues that were before the City Council at the time, like the optimum size of the “reserve” and pension funding obligations.

I told the Mayor that I had been a non-partisan, career civil servant in Washington State for over 30 years, working (much of the time) as a fiscal and economic advisor and manager for both  Democratic and Republican Governors; that I held  a PhD from a good school and had been a professor at the University of Washington.  And, that my late wife Cheryl and I ran two small,  moderately successful businesses during our 30 years of marriage.

It was at this point that he asked me the question that’s in the title of this post.  It could not have been more revealing (and corroborative) about his state of mind and vision of the City and Nation.   It was also offensive to me.

Continue reading…

Diaz gets endorsements from Maher, The Paper

Olga Diaz has gained two endorsements from high-profile conservatives in her effort to become Escondido Mayor: former Escondido Chief of Police Jim Maher and Lyle E. Davis, editor of The Paper.

Maher, of course, has been the center of a controversy over the terms of his “retirement” from the Escondido Police Department. There have been persistent rumors, still unproven, that his departure agreement stipulated that he could not participate in Escondido city politics. This claim has been impossible to prove or disprove as the agreements are confidential personnel matters.

Maher is quoted in a Diaz campaign ad as saying “Olga Diaz is unquestionably the best candidate for Mayor of Escondido.”

Continue reading…

Is Mayor Abed bragging about embarrassing data?

by Irv Lefberg (cross-posted from

upeconomy-questionReal economic information has always been a casualty of electioneering.  Since campaign loony tunes have been  put on steroids by Tea Party style dialogue, it’s even worse,  if that’s imaginable.   I offer a little case study here from the City of Escondido, near San Diego, where I live, which illustrates the problem.   This case has some humorous features that should alleviate the inclination to cry or pound the table.  It has its counterparts in most of the U.S. Senate and Governor’s races we follow across the country.

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts,” said the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, about American political campaigning.

The Mayor of Escondido has either never heard this wise and oft quoted remark, or doesn’t agree with it, especially as it applies to the local economy. The Mayor, or his publicists, have indeed brought new manufacturing to Escondido (as he claims) – the manufacture of numbers about the City’s economy during his tenure.

These numbers are either lies, sloppily concocted because its too much effort to get them right,  or just picked out of thin air because they have a nice ring to them. It’s more likely one of the latter two, than outright lying, because some of the “facts” (amusingly) subvert the Mayor’s case.  The examples are from the Mayor’s stump speeches and campaign mailers blanketing the city.

Continue reading…

Former Mayor Harmon calls for investigation

photo of Jerry HarmonFormer Escondido Mayor Jerry Harmon has called upon public officials to investigate Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, City Manager Clay Phillips and City Attorney Jeff Epp. Harmon believes the officials used public funds for political purposes when they allegedly attempted to stop former Police Chief Jim Maher from running for public office in the city. Harmon’s action follows publication of a letter, attributed to an employee in the city attorney’s office, that was published in The Paper, a weekly newspaper. The August 20, 2013 letter, which appears to have been written for Maher to sign, states “I have no intention whatsoever to seek elective office or to assist any candidate in running for elective office in the City of Escondido during the next election.”

Watch video of the news conference on the EDC YouTube Channel. 

Read coverage in Coast News.

Visit Jerry Harmon’s website on this topic.

Continue reading…

Council votes 4 to 1 against shelter

Olga Diaz photoAs expected, the Escondido City Council voted October 15 to support the recommendation of the city Planning Commission and to reject the application for a migrant children’s shelter in the southwest part of the city.

Mayor Sam Abed and Council members Ed Gallo, Mike Morasco and John Masson voted against the shelter proposal; Deputy Mayor Olga Diaz supported it by voting not to approve the Planning Commission recommendation.

In her usual style, Diaz went through a long list of comparisons that answered, for her, the question of whether the proposed shelter was an appropriate use of the former nursing home — it was. And when she moved from that part of the decision to the “conscience” part, she said recalled the failure of President Franklin Roosevelt to admit a ship of Jewish refugees during World War II. She called his failure “a mark of shame” on his leadership. She declared “I may lose an election but I will not lose my humanity,” by voting against the shelter.

Southwest Key, a firm that operates similar facilities in other parts of San Diego County, had sought a conditional use permit to convert the nursing home to a shelter. Its application had been denied by the Planning Commission, but was appealed by the ACLU. Dozens of public speakers addressed the issue  in a Council meeting that lasted more than three hours.

Read coverage in UT San Diego.
Read coverage from NBC7.
See video coverage from News 8.
Read coverage in the Los Angeles Times.

Watch video from the City of Escondido website.