All the votes have been counted from the June 8th primary, with the exception of the Mary Salas/Juan Vargas race which will be in the courts today (Friday). Over 12,563 votes were either sent in late, or not properly picked-up on time. Vargas leads Salas by 12 votes. Whether these votes are counted or not will probably result in a recount.
The only other race that hung in the balance until every last vote was counted was the Chula Vista City Council race where Pat Aguilar won the right to challenge Larry Breitfelder by virtue of her 54 vote margin over Jill Galvez.
Beyond these races there were some surprise outcomes that had political insiders scratching their heads as to what went wrong. Humberto Peraza, Chula Vista City Council Candidate, had been perceived as the frontrunner with his impressive list of Democratic endorsements and massive money backing him. Steve Castaneda’s run for mayor of Chula Vista where it was widely assumed by many that there would be a runoff between him and Cheryl Cox. Unfortunately the race was a no contest with Cox winning the primary outright with a 50%+ margin. The Ben Hueso versus Pearl Quinones race for Assembly had also been seen as a race to close to call. In fact, Hueso had a pretty easy time, winning with over 3000 votes.
Hispanic political pundits are now asking the question, what went wrong? The simplistic answer is that there was a low Democratic voter turnout. In most off-election year with no high profile candidate at the top of the ticket, Democratic voters have the annoying tendency of staying home.
On top of that if one digs a little deeper one finds out that few Hispanics came out to vote. More damming to us then not coming out to vote is that Hispanics continue to be not registered to vote. In SD County only about 1 in four Hispanics are registered to vote, and of those only about 17% come out to vote on election day.
The key then appears to get Hispanics registered and then to the polls. In San Diego, and particular in the South Bay there is no infrastructure to support voter registration drives. The old guard political leadership has not stepped up to the plate to support or generate funds for those needed voter registration drives. Also the few Hispanic political groups in San Diego County have not focused any of their energy or have shown interest, or the desire to register voters in their community.
With the passage of the draconian SB 1070 in Arizona, Hispanics there have woken up to the fact that they need to change the political climate in their home state and start to register Hispanics to get them out to vote. This process is now underway, with Mi Familia Vota spearheading the drive announcing that as of last Monday 2,300 newly voters have been registered.
Voter registration is not glamorous work, it takes effort and lots of personal time and it can be hard on the shoes, but in the end it is the kind of work that has to be done if there is going to be social, economic and political change! Political accountability has to begin with us as a community, and then end at the polls with Hispanics voting in numbers that reflect our population. Until we begin to vote, the Hispanic community will continue to witness Arizona type issues, problems in the educational system, high employment, inadequate housing, unaccountable elected officials, etc. In other words the Hispanic community will continue to be on the outside, looking in!