The San Diego County Registrar of Voters office in Kearny Mesa. Photo by Chris Stone
The San Diego County Registrar of Voters office in Kearny Mesa. Photo by Chris Stone

Record turnout is expected for California’s June 7 primary because of the Presidential candidates, but there are also a number of high-profile state and local races. Here is a guide to the key races on the ballot in San Diego County.


Real estate developer and reality TV star Donald Trump is already the presumptive Republican nominee, but he needs a sizable number of California delegates to clinch the deal.

Hillary Clinton

Former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the likely Democratic nominee, but Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders still has a long-shot chance if he wins a super-majority of California delegates.

The primary season has been unique in American politics because of the rise of Trump and Sanders from the fringes of mainstream politics. Trump has promised to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, hit China with tariffs and upend traditional foreign policy. Sanders, an avowed socialist, has called for free college tuition, free health care, taxes on the wealthy and an end to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Clinton is viewed by many as a mainstream candidate who would continue the polices of President Obama.

Only registered Republicans can vote in that party’s primary, but voters who have expressed no party preference — 25 percent of voters in San Diego County — can choose to vote in the Democratic primary.


Kamala Harris

There are 34 names on the ballot for U.S. Senator to succeed retiring Barbara Boxer. California Attorney General Kamala Harris is favored to win, but faces a strong challenge by Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who has represented a Congressional district in northern Orange County for 19 years.

Harris is a career prosecutor who became the first female, African-American and Indian American attorney general of California. She is currently serving her second term.

No Republican candidate is polling strongly, though two former state party chairmen, Thomas Del Beccaro and Duf Sundheim, are on the ballot.


Scott Peters in Congress

At least four of the five members San Diego congressional delegation are expected to easily win in the primary. Reps. Susan Davis, Duncan Hunter, Darrell Issa and Juan Vargas face only token primary opposition.

Rep. Scott Peters, who fought a bitter campaign against former Councilman Carl DeMaio in 2014 that made national news, has three Republican contenders. They are public relations executive Denise Gitsham, Marine officer Jacquie Atkinson and planning board member John Horst.

The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, which often backs Republican candidates, has endorsed Peters, and he is expected to lead the field.

State Senate

Former Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins is seeking the 39th District seat currently held by Marty Block, who has decided not to run for a second term. Block, a former San Diego State University professor and dean, is considering several career opportunities in higher education.

Atkins faces three Republicans, two of them from Coronado, but none are well-known in San Diego politics.

State Assembly

In the sprawling 71st District, which includes east San Diego County and parts of Riverside County, long-time Santee Mayor Randy Voepel is seeking to move up to Sacramento, challenged by science-fiction author and Union Bank executive Tony Teora. Jeweler Leo Hamel is also on the ballot, but has pulled out of the race. Two-term Assembly member Brian Jones cannot run for a third term.

Rocky Chavez, who dropped out of the Senate race in February, will instead seek a third term in the 76th district. The Republican is a retired Marine colonel and former Oceanside City Council member.

In the 78th District, San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria is on the ballot to succeed Toni Atkins, who is termed out and running for state Senate.

Incumbents Marie Waldron in the 75th District, Brian Maienschein in the 77th District, Shirley Weber in the 79th district and Lorena Gonzalez in the 80th District face only token opposition.

County Board of Supervisors

District 3 Supervisor Dave Roberts faces determined opposition from Escondido Mayor Sam Abed and Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar after Roberts was accused of mistreatment by three staff members.

Dave Roberts

The county settled the dispute last year with $310,000 in payments, and no charges were filed. Roberts said a transition to a new chief of staff did not go well and accepted full responsibility.

Abed, himself an immigrant from Lebanon, is known for his hard stance against illegal immigration. In 2006, Abed proposed an ordinance that would penalize landlords who rented to illegal immigrants. The measure was later struck down in the courts.

Gaspar was first elected to the Encinitas City Council in 2010 and then elected as mayor in 2014. She co-owns a physical therapy practice with her husband.

The San Diego Democratic Party has endorsed Roberts, the local Republican Party Abed and the Chamber of Commerce Gaspar.

The other incumbent supervisors who are up for re-election, Greg Cox and Diane Jacob, face only token opposition.

Mayor of San Diego

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and his wife Katherine

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who took office in 2014 after a special election to replace the disgraced Bob Filner, is seeking his first full term. He has campaigned on a platform of improving city services and creating opportunities for all San Diegans. “San Diego is at its best when every community is at its best,” he says. Faulconer has been endorsed by the chamber of commerce.

Challenging him are Ed Harris, a former interim City Council member, and Lori Sandaña, a state former Assembly member. The race is non-partisan, but Faulconer is a Republican, Harris is a Democrat and Saldaña an independent.

It’s possible that Faulconer could win the election outright on June 7 and not have to campaign in the fall.

San Diego City Attorney

Five attorneys from different backgrounds are vying to succeed Jan Goldsmith, who is completing his second term in office.

Robert Hickey

Deputy District Attorney Robert Hickey has been endorsed Mayor Faulconer, four members of the City Council, the San Diego Republican Party and the chamber of commerce. He is a former prosecutor of the year.

Hickey faces Mara Elliott, the chief deputy city attorney in Goldsmith’s office, Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos and attorneys Gil Cabrera and Bryan Pease.

Castellanso is endorsed by two City Council members and state Attorney General Kamala Harris. Cabrera has the backing of Rep. Scott Peters and former state Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins.

The San Diego Democratic Party has endorsed all four of Hickey’s challengers.

San Diego City Council

Barbara Bry

Five of the nine City Council seats are up for grabs in the primary.

In District 1 are entrepreneurs Barbara Bry and Ray Ellis, City Council staffer Kyle Heiskala, architect Louis Rodolico and Bruce Lightner, husband of current council member Sherri Lightner, who is being termed out. Bry and Ellis are considered the front-runners, and have been endorsed by the local Democratic and Republican parties, respectively, though the race is officially non-partisan.

In the District 3 seat  being vacated by Councilman Todd Gloria’s after two terms, his staff member Anthony Bernal faces Chris Ward, chief of staff for Sen. Marty Block, and former Green Beret Scott Sanborn. Ward has the local Democratic Party’s endorsement, but Bernal, though a Democrat, is endorsed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

Councilman Mark Kersey is running for re-election in District 5 against Trader Joe’s employee Keith Mikas and salesman Fotios “Frank” Tsimboukakis. Kersey is the author of local Proposition H, which establishes an infrastructure fund to fix San Diego deteriorating streets, sidewalks, parks, public buildings and other infrastructure. Kersey is endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce.

Scott Sherman

Another incumbent councilman, Scott Sherman in District 7, faces Justin DeCesare, a Navy veteran and real estate broker, and Jose Caballero, another Navy Veteran. Sherman has the chamber’s endorsement, while DeCesare is backed by the local Democratic party.

Finally, in District 9, four candidates are vying for the seat held by Councilwoman Marti Emerald, who has served her two terms. Her chief of staff, Ricardo Flores, is running against environmental health advocate Georgette Gomez, lawyer Araceli Martinez, and taxi driver union head Sarah Saez. Flores has Emerald’s backing and endorsements from Rep. Susan Davis, state Sen. Marty Block and two other City Council members. Gomez has picked up endorsements from two City Council members and former state Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins.

San Diego Unified Board of Education

The notable race here is the one in District E to replace Marne Foster, who resigned earlier this year over improper gifts. Her appointed replacement, retired teacher Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, is running for a full term.

Superior Court

There are two contested Superior Court seats. Incumbent Judge James Mangione, who was appointed in 2015, faces Justice Department attorney Paul Ware, and incumbent Judge Keri Katz, a 10-year veteran, is being challenged by Carla Keehn, a federal prosecutor. All four are rated qualified by the San Diego County Bar Association, but the incumbents have many more endorsements, including that of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

Local and State Propositions

There are nine local propositions in the city of San Diego and one state proposition. See Times of San Diego’s separate guide to the propositions.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.