Chula Vista Mayor candidate John McCann speaks to a news station at the Republican election party held at the US Grant Hotel in San Diego on Nov. 8, 2022. / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran
Chula Vista Mayor John McCann / File photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran for Voice of San Diego

This post originally appeared in the Nov. 19 Politics Report. The weekly newsletter is available to VOSD members only. Join today to get access.

Mayor-elect John McCann’s victory in Chula Vista was a major pickup for Republicans in San Diego County’s second largest city, but it probably won’t give the party control over the second-largest vote at the San Diego Association of Governments.

That’s because Jose Preciado, a Democrat, has opened a 110-vote lead in Chula Vista’s District 2 council race, over Republican Steve Stenberg. Stenberg’s 500-vote lead on election night gave him a 5.7-point edge, which has been erased as late-arriving ballots have been tallied.

Now, the special election to replace Councilman Padilla, who won his state Senate race in a landslide, will not determine partisan control of the City Council. Regardless of the outcome of that race, Preciado will join Carolina Chavez and Andrea Cardenas to give the Democrats at worst a 3-2 majority.

The partisan lean of a Council, though, doesn’t always dictate who represents a city at SANDAG, where each city’s vote is weighted to its proportion of the county’s population. After the 2020 election, Carlsbad’s Democratic Council majority nonetheless sent Republican Mayor Matt Hall as its representative, which became a source of controversy within the Democratic Party. Escondido, meanwhile, has been without a representative at SANDAG for most of the year after Democratic Mayor Paul McNamara nominated himself for the appointment, but failed to win three votes from his City Council. Rather than appoint a compromise candidate, he let the seat sit empty. Dane White, a Republican, has now won the city’s mayoral seat.

Andrew Keatts is a former managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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