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Escondido resident Nicholas Willess outside the Park Avenue Community Center on Nov. 8, 2022 / Photo by Tigist Layne

In North County, a congressional race, a state senate race and a local mayoral race could lead to significant political shifts. 

I visited voting centers in Oceanside, Carlsbad and Escondido to hear from residents about the races and issues they’re paying attention to most. Homelessness and housing affordability were common priorities among voters, though people’s favored candidates were consistently split down the middle. 

At the Pine Avenue Community Center in Carlsbad, I spoke to Patrick White, a Carlsbad resident who has been closely watching the 38th District State Senate race. 

He voted for Democratic Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear over her opponent Republican Matt Gunderson. 

White and his family live in the Barrio neighborhood of Carlsbad, which he says is now referred to as the “million-dollar Barrio,” because of its high-priced homes. 

Carlsbad resident Patrick White / Photo by Tigist Layne

“We would like to see more affordability, and we don’t like to see people leaving Carlsbad that would like to stay, but are pushed out because they can’t afford it,” White said. 

He’s hoping Blakespear stays true to her campaign promises of making housing affordability one of her top priorities. 

I asked him what he thought about Blakespear’s history on housing. 

During, and before, Blakespear’s time as mayor, Encinitas faced multiple lawsuits for defying state affordable housing laws. In 2020, during Blakespear’s term, Encinitas tried to exempt itself from the state density bonus law, which lets developers build more homes if they agree to provide units for low-income residents.  

White said he’s hoping for the best, and he would still rather vote for the Democratic candidate regardless, a Blakespear win would flip the district from red to blue. 

At the Women’s Club of Oceanside, Scott and Jillian Moberg talked to me about the 49th Congressional District race – where incumbent Democratic Rep. Mike Levin is facing off against Republican and former San Juan Capistrano Mayor Bryan Maryott in what’s become a tight race. 

Oceanside residents Scott and Jill Moberg outside the Women’s Club of Oceanside on Nov. 8, 2022 / Photo by Tigist Layne

Democrats brought in President Joe Biden to campaign for Levin in Oceanside last week in hopes of boosting his numbers. 

They both voted for Maryott because they say he better represents their views 

“He is the best candidate for Oceanside – Levin isn’t,” Scott Moberg said. 

Cost of living was one of the top priorities they hope to see addressed in the district. 

In Escondido, residents at the Park Avenue Community Center were eager to talk about the mayoral race – Democratic incumbent Mayor Paul McNamara is facing Republican challenger Dane White, a member of the Escondido Union High School District board of trustees. 

Escondido also has two other council seats up for grabs, with two incumbents facing challenges. The winners of these seats and the mayoral race will determine the council’s political majority. 

The council’s political orientation has shifted in each of the last two elections, with a Democratic majority winning in 2018, followed by a Republican majority in 2020. 

Nicholas Willess, an Escondido resident, said he voted for Dane White primarily because of homelessness. 

“I don’t think he did enough to address homelessness in Escondido,” Willess said of McNamara. “I’m hopeful about some of the changes Dane White could bring.” 

Willess said he isn’t too concerned about a shift in a political majority, saying he voted for who will hopefully get things done. 

Others at the Community Center said politics on the Escondido council had obstructed effective policy making. 

“Maybe this time will be different,” Willess said. 

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