John McCann and Ammar Campa-Najjar
John McCann, left, and Ammar Campa-Najjar. Campaign photos

Voters in San Diego County’s second-largest city will get a new mayor for the first time in eight years Tuesday, with Republican John McCann and Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar squaring off for the position.

McCann and Campa-Najjar received the most votes in a crowded June primary, with McCann receiving 8,618 votes, or 31.41% of the vote, and Campa-Najjar taking 6,047 votes, or 22.04%. Three other primary candidates have since endorsed Campa-Najjar.

The officially nonpartisan race is to replace termed-out Mayor Mary Casillas Salas.

McCann is a city councilman for Chula Vista and deputy mayor, as well as serving in the Navy Reserve, where he was on active duty in Iraq for a year. He has been endorsed by the city’s Police Officers Association. His has said his focus is on increasing public safety in the city and making it an attractive environment for business.

“Chula Vista is my hometown. In this challenging economy, we need leaders who will put public safety, jobs, economic development and reform at the top of the city’s agenda,” he said. “Protecting taxpayers, prioritizing public safety, and concentrating on neighborhood quality of life issues are key to service on the council, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to continue working for an even stronger Chula Vista.”

Other McCann priorities including removing tolls on state Route 125, promoting the Bayfront development, bringing a four-year university to the city and protecting children from violent sex offenders.

Campa-Najjar served in various roles in 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 has been endorsed by Chula Vista Firefighters and several local unions, as well as Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sen. Alex Padilla. His priorities include the Bayfront development in west Chula Vista and bringing a four-year university to east Chula Vista.

“A new day is dawning in Chula Vista. As a third-generation Chula Vistan, Obama Administration official and small business owner, I’m offering new leadership for a city on the verge of new possibilities as we hopefully transition into a post-pandemic economy,” he said.

“We won’t get there by recycling the same career politicians, who for decades have failed to deliver long-overdue projects. We can’t wait 20 more years for these opportunities, we need a new mayor who has the energy to work hard, bring people together to settle differences, and deliver results to meet this moment with a renewed vision for Chula Vista — from Broadway to 3rd Avenue, Otay Ranch to Millenia, east to west of the 805,” Campa-Najjar said.

He listed additional priorities including hiring 40 police officers, building workforce housing for public employees, tackling pandemic-driven learning loss in schools and addressing the city’s homelessness crisis.