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Catherine Blakespear wins election in coastal North County state Senate race

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With nearly all ballots tallied, Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear has been elected to represent the state Senate District 38 over small-business owner Matt Gunderson.

As of Tuesday, election results showed Blakespear leading Gunderson by nearly five percentage points. She will be sworn into office at the state capitol on Dec. 5, and all election results will be certified by Dec. 8.

On Sunday, Blakespear said on her website that she is honored to represent the coastal North County and southern Orange County district and looks forward to serving her constituents in Sacramento.

“I feel a mixture of awe, gratitude, excitement, and the sense that there’s much to learn about how to succeed in this noble position,” Blakespear said. “But above all is my determination to improve the lives of every Californian.”

In a statement on Twitter last week, Gunderson said he was disappointed by the results but appreciative of the process and those who assisted him in the campaign.

“Some may say that they avoid politics at all costs, but I can earnestly say that politics has been a blessing to me and my family,” Gunderson said. “So many people I respect have been involved in our political process — both on the ballot and behind the scenes. I’d like to thank each of you who have contributed in some way to my campaign.”

The two candidates were close in polls leading up to Election Day. The district encompasses part of southern Orange County and the San Diego County communities of Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas and Vista, south to Carmel Valley, La Jolla, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach.

In the June primary election, Gunderson led Blakespear by about three percentage points, according to state data.

On the campaign trail, Blakespear emphasized her record as mayor and her efforts to support the environment, such as adopting a building ordinance in Encinitas that limits use of natural gas in new construction. She also emphasized her work to get new bike lanes, subsidized housing and an alternative to San Diego Gas & Electric, known as San Diego Community Power.

According to his website, Gunderson’s top issues were reducing crime and homelessness, and getting more local control on housing. During the campaign he voiced his opposition to more restrictive gun-control laws and the way Gov. Gavin Newsom handled the pandemic.

Elsewhere in San Diego County, Sen. Brian Jones was re-elected to represent the 40th District, which includes Escondido, Poway, Santee, Descanso, Lakeside, Ramona and the Mira Mesa and Rancho Bernardo neighborhoods of San Diego.

He holds a six percentage point lead over Democrat Joseph Rocha, an attorney and veteran of the Navy and Marines.

Jones said on his website last week that he was humbled to continue to represent the district.

“I am honored for the opportunity to continue serving the over one million residents of East and North San Diego County,” Jones said. “We are just getting started in our fight to fix California and return luster to our Golden State. The voters rightly expect Californian’s leaders to set aside political differences and tackle the many challenges we face.”

In a statement on Twitter, Rocha said he was proud of his campaign and hopes he has helped inspire others to seek change.

“We ran one of the most competitive races in California driven by a simple message: that politics should be about service,” Rocha said. “As a first-time challenger with no name ID and no personal wealth, we have earned nearly 140,000 votes (and counting) for a vision that centers people over profit and leaves the world around us better than we found it.”

The newly-drawn district was considered potentially competitive prior to the election. Voters in the district lean Republican, but there are Democratic pockets of voters in Escondido and San Diego, according to voting data. Still, Jones finished ahead of Rocha by 9 percentage points in the primary.

In District 18 — covering parts of San Diego, National City and Imperial Beach, as well as parts of Imperial, San Bernardino and Riverside counties — Chula Vista City Council member and California Coastal Commission member Steve Padilla, a Democrat, still held a sizable lead over Republican Alejandro Galicia, a Navy veteran.

Padilla won the June primary against Galicia with 61 percent of the vote and was expected to win the general election.

In the contest to represent state Senate District 32, Republican state Assemblymember Kelly Seyarto continues to hold a commanding lead over his Democratic opponent, Brian Nash, an analytics consultant. The district covers central San Diego County and parts of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Seyarto easily won the June primary election.

Read More: Catherine Blakespear wins election in coastal North County state Senate race

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