REGION — After losing a 49th Congressional District race in which he was the early front runner, Rocky Chavez is still on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Chavez, who is set to leave California’s 76th State Assembly District seat, is listed as a candidate for the Tri-City Healthcare District, according to the registrar of voter’s official candidate list.
According to the county Registrar of Voters candidate list, Chavez pulled nomination papers on Aug. 8, two days before the Aug. 10 filing deadline, the day that he filed and qualified for the ballot.
But Chavez, reached Aug. 14, said he had created a committee a month earlier and filed locally three weeks ago.
“It’s all about service to the community and continuing my service to Tri-City,” Chavez said. “I’ve been active with them since 1998 and look forward to continuing that service in a new role.”
Chavez most recently was one of 16 candidates looking to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) in the 49th Congressional District.
Early polls tabbed Chavez as the front runner in the race, but he faded down the stretch and finished sixth during the June 5 primary.
The retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel served on the Oceanside City Council from 2002 to 2009 and as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s undersecretary, and later, secretary of veterans affairs before voters elected him to the state assembly in 2012. He declined to seek re-election to run for congress.
Chavez is running for the Division 2 seat currently held by incumbent Laura Mitchell, who is seeking re-election, as well as a third challenger, health care compliance specialist Jim Burlew.
Although he is facing an incumbent, Chavez said he believes his name recognition in the district will overcome Mitchell’s advantage as incumbent.
“I would be willing to bet my name ID in this district is significantly higher than the incumbent,” Chavez said. “Having been elected here twice for City Council and the past six years in the assembly district, I think I will be OK.”
The Coast News has reached out to Mitchell and will update the story with comment.
The seven-member elected board oversees the public health district that manages the 397-bed Tri-City Medical Center, which provides health care services for more than 600,000 residents in Oceanside, Carlsbad and Vista and surrounding areas.
Most recently, the healthcare district board voted to close its inpatient mental health facility after citing recent changes in federal regulations, budget shortfalls and a dearth of staff as the culprits.
Chavez said it was this issue that prompted him to consider a bid for the board.
“Tri-City is important to the community, and the issue with the mental health facility is a big issue to me, especially with mental health and veterans,” he said.