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Nora Vargas leads Ben Hueso in District 1 county supervisor race

Ben Hueso and Nora Vargas are candidates for the District 1 seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
(Sam Hodgson / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Departing Supervisor Greg Cox congratulates Vargas, but Hueso has not conceded.

In a battle that will see a Latina or Latino representing District 1 of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors for the first time, Southwestern College board member Nora Vargas took the lead in the Nov. 3 election over state Sen. Ben Hueso, with vote counting continuing.

New updated numbers may be announced Nov. 5.

“We’ve been calling this a ‘people power’ campaign,” Vargas said. “Having the opportunity to share with residents the vision of a healthy, strong community, I think, was really powerful.”

The winner will replace Greg Cox, a Republican who has held the seat the past 25 years and is stepping down because of term limits. Hueso and Vargas are both Democrats.

Cox called Vargas on Nov. 4 and took to Twitter, saying: “This morning I called [Vargas] to congratulate her on a hard-earned victory. She’s going to make a great supervisor! We have already scheduled a meeting to begin working on a smooth transition so that we can continue serving the people of District 1.”

But a Hueso campaign spokeswoman said Nov. 4 that the senator had not conceded.

District 1 includes heavily Latino South Bay communities such as National City, Barrio Logan, Sherman Heights and Chula Vista. The district also encompasses the Point Loma peninsula, Coronado, Imperial Beach and parts of downtown San Diego.

Vargas has never held a municipal government office, but the Chula Vista resident is president of the Southwest College governing board, worked as an executive at Planned Parenthood for nearly 20 years and has been active in health care and education issues.

“I sent out a text to all the voters with my cellphone number,” Vargas said. “Many people called me and texted me. They couldn’t believe they were talking to an actual candidate. ... I think people want to see something different.”

Hueso, a familiar face in local and state politics, is chairman of the California Senate’s Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and previously served in the state Assembly and five years on the San Diego City Council.

“I’m a hard worker and I’m not one of those candidates who just makes promises during the campaign ... I deliver on my promises,” Hueso said in a recent interview.

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the county Board of Supervisors earlier this year approved its largest budget in history — $6.55 billion. Vargas said her budget priorities include more spending on personal protective equipment and addressing housing issues. Hueso said he wants to emphasize spending to reduce drug addiction and improve mental health services.

Vargas received the endorsement of the San Diego County Democratic Party, as well as U.S. Reps. Susan Davis and Mike Levin and California Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez.

Hueso’s endorsements included Rep. Juan Vargas, state Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly member and San Diego mayoral candidate Todd Gloria.


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