For many voters in Chula Vista and San Ysidro, the chance to oust President Donald Trump drove them to the polls on Tuesday morning.
When it came to local issues, schools were at the forefront of voters’ minds, while some of the campaigns that have poured the most money into getting their attention, like countywide Measures A and B, seemed to have made less of an impact.
“The fate of the world is literally on the line,” said Alberto Osornio, as he exited the San Ysidro Library after casting his votes.
Osornio voted for Bernie Sanders in the presidential primary.
He followed that progressive line when it came to local elections, too. That’s why he said he voted for Nora Vargas, a former Planned Parenthood executive and Southwestern College board trustee, to represent District 1 on the County Board of Supervisors, which covers all of South Bay and parts of the southeastern San Diego and Point Loma. Osornio said he was going to go with Sophia Rodriguez, an employee at the county’s Health and Human Services Agency, because he shared her values and positions, but ultimately decided that her lack of resources would be a problem in the election and went with Vargas.
“She’s a very nice, honest, capable woman,” Osornio said of Vargas. “I feel like I can trust her.”
Bertha Balcaceres had to run to an appointment and didn’t have time to speak to me, but as she sped to her car, she let me know that she mainly just wanted to vote for president.
“We’ve got to get that man out,” she said in Spanish, referring to Trump.
Alfred Nieto shared her perspective.
“Get that son of a bitch out of office,” Nieto told me. “My family has been in California since 1768 and what he’s doing to Latinos – it’s offensive.”
When it came to his vote for county supervisor, Nieto opted for state Sen. Ben Hueso.
“I think he’s a pretty good candidate,” he said. “I talked to him when he was a City Council member. He’s already shown he’ll do something for us.”
Griselda Leon said she came out to vote to change the economy – and change the president.
At first, Leon didn’t remember who she voted for in the county supervisor race, but after I refreshed her memory of the candidates, she recalled that she voted for Vargas.
When I asked why, Leon said it was because he is a Latino and has many years in politics – which means it’s possible she thought she was voting for Rep. Juan Vargas.
‘I Want to Help the Schools’
Maria Hernandez couldn’t remember who she voted for in the county supervisor race, but said she voted for the statewide Proposition 13, a school facilities bond.
Helping schools is the main reason she came out to vote, Hernandez said.
“I vote to better the community,” she said. “I want to help the schools.”
It was the ballot measures that brought out Paulina and Jose Carranza to vote in Chula Vista, especially Measure M, a school bond for Chula Vista Elementary School.
“We really need to invest in our kids’ futures,” Paulina Carranza said. “We have a lot of kids in our communities.”
Those family-oriented voting priorities carried into other races, too. Paulina Carranza said she voted for Rafael Castellanos for county supervisor because she liked the ideas he put forth.
They had mainly become familiar with his policy ideas through mailers that arrived at their home.
“What really stuck with me was how his ideas were focused on families,” she said. “We hope he actually keeps his promises, though.”
Jose Carranza hadn’t yet voted. The couple was leaving the Chula Vista Library Civic Center Branch after they realized it wasn’t his polling place. Paulina Carranza had already voted by mail.
Messaging About Measure A Doesn’t Seem to Have Made it to South Bay
Many of the voters I spoke with seemed confused about what Measure A, a countywide initiative that would certain general plan amendments to get countywide voter approval, would actually do. Some of them even voted for the measure because they thought it would accomplish things it doesn’t actually do.
Paulina Carranza said she voted yes on Measure A.
She said she liked the idea of extending communities out in rural areas – though a yes vote on Measure A would actually make that more difficult.
Hernandez said she voted yes on A because she didn’t want rents to go up.
Osornio, in San Ysidro, also voted yes on Measure A. But Osornio, like many other voters I met in South Bay, thought he was voting for a measure that would provide more housing opportunities for the homeless in rural areas.
“I know that doesn’t really apply to urban areas, but maybe it will help homeless people in rural areas not have to sleep in the cold outside,” Osornio said. “I make very little money, but if I can help them with my vote, I will.”
Viviana Gutierrez didn’t want to tell me which way she voted on Measure A – or how she voted for anything – as she left Castle Park Middle School in Chula Vista. But she alluded to the mixed messages she received on Measure A leading up to Election Day.
“At first I liked it because I thought it would build more houses, but then it seemed like it was more for business interests and not people who need housing, so I don’t trust that.” Gutierrez said.