A trio of council members were officially sworn into office at last week’s meeting, as Rebecca Jones, above, became the city’s 14th mayor. Photo via Facebook
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San Marcos voters elect Jones for mayor, remain split on key races

SAN MARCOS — San Marcos voters rendered a split decision of sorts in the race for mayor and City Council districts 1 and 2.

On one hand, voters elected Rebecca Jones as mayor, replacing Jim Desmond who termed out of office but also won the District 5 Board of Supervisors race on the same night. Jones defeated fellow council member Chris Orlando, who also is termed out of office.

But voters in the first and second electoral districts appear to have chosen Orlando’s running mates, Maria Nunez and Randy Walton, though the margin in Nunez’s race at the end of the precinct count was a mere 15 votes.

Jones is on the way to soundly defeating Orlando, currently leading with 53 percent of the vote compared to Orlando’s 41.8 percent. Children’s author Bradley Zink finished with 5.04 percent of the vote.

In District 1, the less publicized of the two district races, Nunez, an attorney, finished the night with 814 votes compared to 799 from Craig Garcia, who owns the Old California Coffee House and Eatery in Restaurant Row. Cliff Ireland, who serves as Oceanside City Councilman Jerry Kern’s aide, received 269 votes to finish in third place.

District 2, by contrast, was a bitterly contested district that saw tens of thousands of dollars of so-called “dark money” from political action campaigns flow into the race in support of Mike Sannella, who allied himself with Jones.

However, it was Walton who emerged with more than half of the 5,377 votes counted, finishing well in front of Sannella, who received 34.29 percent of the vote, and Planning Commission Chairman Eric Flodine, who received 15.36 percent of the vote.

San Marcos, like many North County cities, held their first “by district” elections in city history, following the decision to switch from citywide races after a Malibu-based attorney threatened to sue the city claiming that the races discriminated against Latinos.

Unlike many North County cities, however, San Marcos was able to create a district with a majority Hispanic population, centered around the Richmar community.

Jones’ election as mayor creates a vacancy on the City Council, which the City Council will have to decide how to fill within 60 days of the new council being seated, either by appointment or scheduling a special election.

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