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District 4 will temporarily be without a council representative after City Councilman Tony Young resigns at the end of the month.

The city will begin planning a special election after Young leaves to take a new job with the local Red Cross chapter but his seat could remain vacant until late spring. (For more details on Young’s new gig, check out this post.)

District 4 is in the southeastern corner of the city and includes Chollas View, Encanto, Lomita Villa and Valencia Park.

The timing

City rules require the election be held within 90 days of Young’s resignation though there’s a chance the timeline could be tweaked to save the city cash. The City Attorney’s Office will soon issue a legal opinion on the matter.

A runoff between the top two vote-getters could follow if there’s not an outright winner.

The current timeline would likely mean a special election in March and if necessary, a runoff within 49 days. That would likely leave District 4 without a council vote until May.

The City Council will ultimately sign off on the election date.

The costs

The city’s bill will depend partly on whether it can hold the election to replace Young on the same day as the District 40 state Senate race to replace soon-to-be Rep. Juan Vargas. (For more details on the possibilities, check out this post.)

If the races can be combined, the San Diego County Registrar of Voters expects to charge the city $258,000 to $288,000. If the races can’t be combined, the city could pay an extra $100,000 for its contract with the county.

The city could save cash by relying only on mail-in ballots but it seems less likely to try that route.

Bonnie Stone of the City Clerk’s Office said the number of candidates could also affect printing and postage costs for the city’s voter information packets.

The potential candidates

Until Young resigns and the city calls a special election, no candidate can officially enter the race but U-T San Diego recently checked in with a few District 4 residents who may run.

City Clerk Elizabeth Maland expects the candidate pool to be determined sometime next month.

We’ll have more details on candidates and the top issues in the district early next year.

What to watch for

District 4 is a Democratic stronghold.

The latest voter registration count reveals more than half of the district’s voters are registered Democrats.

But less than 25 percent of the district’s registered voters have participated in recent council races.

Only 15,311 voters cast ballots in the 2010 race, when Young was re-elected the district’s councilman.

Even fewer voters participated in the 2004 special election and 2005 runoff that propelled Young into the seat.

In fact, Young beat challenger George Stevens by only 2,192 votes in the runoff.

That dynamic could create an opening for a Republican who can urge voters to turn out at the polls.

The low turnout also increases the likelihood of a tight race and a runoff, particularly if several candidates join the race. Young was one of eight contenders in the district’s last special election.

Lisa Halverstadt is a reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at lisa.halverstadt@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0528.

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Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.

Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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