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Santee Mayor John Minto leads in bid for re-election

Karen Pearlman –

Santee Mayor John Minto held a slim lead Tuesday over first-term Councilman Stephen Houlahan in his bid to retain his seat for another four years, according to early returns from the Registrar of Voters.

Minto, who was elected in 2016 as mayor of the East County city of about 60,000, has been on the City Council since 2002 and is a retired San Diego police officer. Houlahan, a registered nurse, was elected to represent District 4 in 2016, when the city first went to by-district voting.

Samm Hurst, a public health scientist and college instructor, was out in front against Dustin Trotter, a business owner and appointed member of the Community Oriented Policing Committee, in the race for Houlahan’s District 4 seat.

City Councilwoman Laura Koval, who won a shortened two-year term in 2018, had no competition for her District 3 seat. City Councilman Brian Jones, who had been appointed to a two-year term in 2016, was elected to the state Senate in 2018 just as Santee moved to by-district voting, leaving a vacancy in the newly formed District 3. She beat two opponents in 2018.

Santee residents were weighing in on three measures, two of which were put on the ballot through petition drives.

Proposition N, a citizens’ initiative that would allow voters to weigh in on developments that deviate from the city’s General Plan, looked to be passing with voters in early returns.

Another citizens-led measure, Measure Q, was nearly even with the competing city-sponsored Measure R, regarding term limits for elected officials, in the early going. Whichever get the most votes will become law.

Measure Q says that members of the City Council and the mayor would be limited to three consecutive four-year terms, where any portion of a term, whether by election or appointment, would count as a full term. Measure R would establish a limit of three consecutive four-year terms for City Council, regardless of which of four districts in Santee is represented and has a limit of two consecutive four-year terms for mayoral service, separate from and in addition to the term limit for City Council service.

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