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Nora Vargas takes early lead on Ben Hueso in SD County Supervisor, District 1 race

Rob Nikolewski –

In a battle that will see a Latino representing District 1 of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors for the first time, Southwestern College board member Nora Vargas has taken the lead over state Sen. Ben Hueso, according to early returns from the county’s registrar of voters.

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

“Hard work pays off,” Vargas said as early returns came in. “I’m cautiously optimistic (and) I thank the voters of District 1 and look forward to serving them.”

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

A familiar face in local and state politics, Hueso is the chairman of the California Senate’s Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and previously served in the state Assembly in Sacramento 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 at a recent interview with the Union-Tribune editorial board.

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’ve done the real work on the ground that impacts people’s daily lives,” Vargas told the editorial board. “The reality is that government isn’t working for many of our people and our families.”

Vargas has come out in strong support of Proposition 15, which would require commercial and industrial properties — except those zoned as commercial agriculture — to be taxed based on their market value. The measure is expected to generate between $8 billion and $12.5 billion per year, with a chunk going to school districts and community colleges.

“For far too long, large commercial and property owners have avoided paying their fair share in taxes,” Vargas said.

Hueso opposed Prop 15, saying “putting an additional burden (on businesses) will just bring them down.” But in late September, Hueso reversed course and came out in support after constituents “shared with me the importance of this ballot measure, and how badly we need this revenue to improve our schools and deliver essential public services.”

Vargas has 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 include U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas, State Senate Pro Tem Toni Adkins and Assembly member and San Diego mayoral candidate Todd Gloria.

Cox did not endorsed either candidate.

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