Chula Vista candidates were slow to step up for the June 3 municipal election. Many waited until the last day, March 7, to turn in their nomination papers. Cheryl Cox will be termed out as mayor in December, and the hope was for a wide field and fresh faces running for the mayoral seat.
The candidates for mayor are Jerry Rindone, who identifies himself as an educator and a business owner; Mary Salas, who is currently serving as a council member and was formerly a California assembly member; and Pamela Bensoussan, who will be termed out as a council member in December 2016.
Salas previously served as a council member from 1996–2004. Rindone served 16 years on the city council and also did a 4-year stint at the County Board of Education; he was defeated in his bid for a second term in 2012.
On March 7, Dan Muñoz, editor of La Prensa San Diego, espressed the wish for additional candidates that many community members had voiced. Muñoz wrote in his column “Tezozomoc Speaks”:
“Not exactly breaking news but it looks like Shirley Horton is done with politics and will not be running for mayor of Chula Vista… que lastima… doesn’t leave Chula Vistans with much choice… Mary Salas and Jerry Rindone??? Here’s hoping someone of substance steps up…”
The surprise came later, however, when people learned through a San Diego Rostra posting that Shirley Horton, former California assembly member and Chula Vista mayor, filed at the 11th hour to run for the State Board of Equalization.
The Chula Vista mayor’s race may be influenced by Sweetwater Union High School District’s problems.
Salas is working on a unification plan that could potentially break up Sweetwater and create several South Bay school districts. Further discussion on unification is expected to take place at council meetings in the coming weeks.
The unification plan has caused rifts in the South Bay in the past, and some in the community don’t want to see a district that is perceived as running well — Chula Vista Elementary, for example — saddled with Sweetwater problems or debt. For those people, Rindone, with his background in education, might pose an alternative.
Sweetwater plays into the upcoming race in another interesting way. There are six candidates for council seat 1: Robert Corcilius, a small-business owner; John McCann, businessman, Sweetwater trustee, and Navy reservist; Steve Padilla, small-business owner; Jason Paguio, business owner and commissioner; Heideh Rivera, salesperson and homemaker; and Scott Vinson, businessman and planning commissioner.
McCann and Padilla have name recognition. Besides being a first-term Sweetwater school-board member, McCann is a former city-council member. Padilla is a former council member and mayor of Chula Vista and served briefly as a port commissioner.
McCann’s term as Sweetwater trustee is up in November. If McCann makes it into the November runoff for council seat 1, will he walk away from his Sweetwater trustee position?
The race for council seat 2 is impacted with candidates as well. The candidates are Patricia Aguilar, who is running for her second term as city councilwoman; Hector Gastelum, identified as a businessman; David Gonzalez, Jr., business consultant; Willie Harris, office manager and parent; Dan Smith, small businessman; and Michael Spethman, businessman.
The list may thin next week. Candidates who filed on the last day still need to have 20 people who signed their nomination papers vetted by the city clerk.
Glen Googins is running unopposed for his second term as city attorney.