John McCann addresses fellow Republicans meeting at the U.S. Grant Hotel downtown on primary election night . Photo by Chris Stone

John McCann, the lone Republican in the race, led early Wednesday for Chula Vista mayor with 31.4% of the vote as Democrats Ammar Campa-Najjar and Jill Galvez trailed at 22% and 20.2% respectively.

For the first time in eight years, Chula Vistans will have a new mayor this fall as they chose from six candidates in Tuesday’s primary election to replace termed out Mayor Mary Casillas Salas.

Also vying to replace Casillas Salas, Chula Vista’s first Latina mayor, were Zaneta Encarnacion, Rudy Ramirez and Spencer Cash in the nonpartisan race.

Campa-Najjar served in various roles within President Barack Obama’s administration, including a public relations position in the Employment & Training Administration. He unsuccessfully ran for Congress in East County, once in 2018 against Rep. Duncan Hunter and again in 2020 against current Rep. Darrell Issa.

He was endorsed by Chula Vista Firefighters and several local unions. His priorities include the Bayfront development in west Chula Vista and bringing a four-year university to east Chula Vista.

Encarnacion, a Democrat, is the chief of staff at Southwestern College and has endorsements from Casillas Salas, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and the Democratic Party of San Diego County. Her priorities included economic recovery from COVID-19 and providing more affordable housing in the city’s neighborhoods.

Cash is a retired Army major who served two decades as “a medical evacuation helicopter pilot and medical operations officer” and is focused on balancing Chula Vista’s budget.

McCann is a city councilman for Chula Vista and deputy mayor. He has been endorsed by the city’s Police Officers Association. His focus is on increasing public safety in the city and making it an attractive environment for business.

Galvez also serves as a city councilwoman representing northwest Chula Vista and served as deputy mayor in 2020. She serves on the Board of Directors for MTS and the Metropolitan Wastewater Joint Powers Authority. Her priorities include increased public safety, speeding up progress on city issues and ending the toll on State Route 125. She has been endorsed by the San Diego Union-Tribune’s editorial board.

Ramirez is a former city councilman and a small business owner. He last held office in 2015 and unsuccessfully sought a role on the Chula Vista Elementary School District board in 2014 and the city council’s District 4 seat in 2016. His priorities include addressing homelessness, stopping domestic violence, developing the city’s economy and cross-border relations.

The two receiving the most votes will advance to November’s runoff election.

Updated at 12:21 a.m. June 8, 2022

Çity News Service contributed to this report