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On the same night that the Republican Party lost the last seat it held in the city of San Diego, conservative candidates won municipal races in Chula Vista, Escondido, National City and Carlsbad, giving them a louder voice in regional policy debates.

Flipping those seats won’t just change those cities. It could also lead to power shifts on regional agencies like the San Diego Association of Governments and the Port of San Diego.

The biggest of the Republican wins this week, for instance, came in Chula Vista, San Diego’s second largest city. If Republicans can parlay Mayor-elect John McCann’s victory into a win in special election next year to fill Councilman Steve Padilla’s seat after he won his state Senate race, they could put gain a representative at SANDAG with the second largest say on the board, where votes are weighted by the population of each city.

Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey, who has rallied Republicans on the SANDAG board in opposition to the pro-transit direction of the agency’s director, Hasan Ikhrata, said the potential added sway at SANDAG isn’t coincidental. Republicans who won their municipal races, he said, largely focused on opposing SANDAG’s push to eventually charge drivers for every mile they drive, to fund transportation projects and curb climate change.

“I look at a lot of those elections as a referendum on SANDAG,” he said. 

La Mesa Councilman Colin Parent, a Democrat, said the GOP’s relatively strong performance compared to recent elections reflects the fact that even in a polarized climate, personal relationships matter – especially in smaller cities.

“Personal relationships mean more, and party affiliation and endorsements from political affiliations mean less because with a smaller electorate, the candidate can have genuine relationships with a larger percentage of voters,” he said.

Read the story in its entirety here. 

Thursday’s Election Results Update

San Diego County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk candidate Jordan Marks on election night. / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran for Voice of San Diego

The Registrar released a count of another 100,000 votes Thursday, and most of the toss-up races are still toss ups.

On Measure C, which would remove Midway from the 30-foot height limit on new buildings in the coastal area, the “Yes” side nearly doubled its lead, though that amounts to just a 1,190 vote edge. Still, it could relieve supporters by reversing a trend that had been narrowing the measure’s lead as more votes were counted on election night.

But the latest batch of votes wasn’t as comforting for supporters of Measure B, which would let the city charge all residents for trash pickup. The “No” side of that measure stretched its lead to 3,600 votes, up from 2,247 when the registrar dropped the first round of ballots.

Democratic Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear gained a bit of room over Republican businessman Matt Gunderson in her bid to represent the 38th state Senate district, pushing her lead from 50.3-49.7 lead to 51-49.

In the 49th Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Mike Levin grew his lead over former San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott from 51.1-48.9 to a healthier 51.7-48.3. The two-term congressman’s re-election bid is among a closely watched handful in California that could determine whether the GOP wins control of the House.

It’s still incredibly close in the race to be Imperial Beach’s next mayor, where Democratic Councilwoman Paloma Aguirre stretched her lead to a whopping 50 votes, from fewer than 30, over Republican Shirley Nakawatase.

Jordan Marks, a Republican, is hanging on to his lead over Democrat Barbara Bry to be San Diego’s next Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk. He’s up 52.2-47.8.

GOP businesswoman Kristie Bruce-Lane is still ahead of Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, a Democrat, in his 76th Assembly District re-election bid, but he gained some ground with the latest count. Wednesday morning, Bruce-Lane led by 615 votes but that’s now down to just 220 votes.

Palomar Health Incumbents Take Large Leads in Board Elections

In Palomar Health’s Board of Directors race, four incumbent candidates are poised to hold on to their board seats, including Board Chair Linda Greer who was one of the candidates receiving large campaign contributions from Palomar Health’s executive staff members.

Two new candidates who were also receiving donations from the hospital district’s top staff were defeated by their incumbent opponents.

Read the full story here.

State Public Utilities Commission Drops Key Rooftop Solar Policy 

San Diegans generate the most rooftop solar in the state, so a new proposal that cuts incentives to continue building it could sting for California’s southernmost county. 

The state Public Utilities Commission proposed slashing credits new rooftop solar 

 owners would get for selling excess energy back to the grid in a proposal dropped Thursday. Under the current rate structure, rooftop solar owners make 30 cents per kilowatt but Thursday’s proposal, according to the California Solar and Storage Association, would cut that rate to about 8 cents per kilowatt hour.

The proposed plan is better, some solar advocates say, than one introduced a year ago and later stalled after intervention by Gov. Gavin Newsom who appoints the members of that commission. 

So what does that mean for solar? Here’s what advocates had to say. 

VOSD Shout-Out to Rooftop Solar Owners: Got a rooftop solar system powering your home, business or apartment complex? Or thinking about it? Voice of San Diego’s environment reporter, MacKenzie Elmer, wants to hear from you and whether changes to California’s solar incentives would affect your decision. Send her an email at mackenzie@voiceofsandiego.org.

In Other Corners of Our World

  • CalMatters unpacks why California’s “eco-friendly, tax-the-rich” electorate killed Proposition 30, a wealth tax that would have paid for climate initiatives. 
  • San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said he’ll issue an executive order directing city staff to prioritize the fentanyl crisis developing in San Diego. (CBS 8)
  • Topgolf, a high-end driving range and bar destination, plans to build two outfits in San Diego. (Union Tribune)
  • Rents in San Diego are predicted to rise over the next two years, outpacing Los Angeles, according to a study by University of Southern California. (KPBS)

The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts and MacKenzie Elmer. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.

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