REGION — From four to two, the race for the District 5 seat on theSan Diego County Board of Supervisors appears set.
San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond, a Republican, blew away the field, but didn’t earn enough votes to avoid a runoff. He tallied 45 percent (35,832) of the vote, while Democrat Michelle Gomez earned 22 percent (17,611), Oceanside City Councilman Jerry Kern, a Republican, finished third with 20 percent (16,186) and Democrat Jacqueline Arsivaud came in fourth with 12 percent (9,743).
According to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, there are 220,000 outstanding ballots, although many of those will not affect the District 5 race. Still, there are enough to flip second and third place.
Still, Desmond is too far to catch and he touted his success as mayor as one reason he’s connected with District 5 voters.
“I’ve been the mayor for this city for the last 12 years and regionally I’ve served on many different boards,” he explained. “I have a lot of support throughout the county. It’s helped me learn how to get things done. I think having those regional relationships has helped me hit the ground running.”
It is the first time in 24 years the seat will be held by someone other than Bill Horn, who is termed out after Measure B passed in 2010.
Desmond was long considered the frontrunner, and for several hours many thought he may reach the 50 percent plus one of the vote to win the seat outright. But Gomez held on, although she has a tough hill to climb in November.
While the race for second is tight, Gomez said she is encouraged by the results.
“It was a really exciting night last night,” she said. “Every time there was an update, our numbers went up, so we are pretty optimistic. We are looking forward to bringing on new volunteers and going into November.”
The election pitted elected political stalwarts Desmond and Kern against up-and-comers Arsivaud and Gomez.
Desmond also survived a late complaint of violating campaign finance laws, but the case was cleared almost as quickly as it was filed. Desmond said last week it was “last-minute political hit.” He was cleared by an independent council and the California Fair Political Practices Commission.
Regardless, Desmond has a comfortable lead going into November, although turnout is expected to be higher. In District 5, 79,508 people voted and there are more than 600,000 residents in the district reaching from Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, Camp Pendleton, Valley Center (excluding Escondido) and Borrego Springs.
Now, his focus is on the general election in November.
“In November, it’s a different electorate,” Desmond said. “We’re going to be looking at the issues we have now, you know, homelessness, housing and infrastructure. We’re going to keep an eye on those and issues that pop up they will need to be addressed.”
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.