After going through a tortuous procedure to winnow down the nine candidates for city council, the four members, Mayor Paul McNamara, Olga Diaz, Mike Morasco and Consuelo Martinez, deadlocked twice in attempting to choose a successor to the late John Masson in District 2.
They will return in May to try again.
Whomever is picked will serve until November, assuming that they can ultimately agree on a name, will then have to run for the remaining two years of Masson’s term and then run in two years for a full term.
Giving that complicated process, there were nine candidates who were interviewed during a meeting that last nearly three hours, beginning at 3:30 p.m.
The candidates who began the evening included Nicole Downey, who ran for the office two years ago and lost to Masson; Scotty Lombardi, a business leader who has served on numerous boards, such as Palomar College Foundation and San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation; Vanessa Valenzuela, who was also a candidate for the seat two years ago; Pamela Kleinkauf, an attorney, and law professor at Palomar College; Jeff Damon Griffith, a member of the Palomar Health Board and a career CalFire captain and paramedic; Barbara C. Aguilar, a development specialist at Escondido Community Child Development Center; Richard Paul, who has served on the planning commission and on an environmental preserve while running a company that employs more than 100; William J. Curtin, a member of the U.S. Navy serving as Operations Officer aboard the USS Detroit; Tina Ostrem Inscoe, a development adviser at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido and a longtime executive of the Escondido Chamber of Commerce, member of the Palomar Health Foundation and Escondido Charitable Foundation.
After asking an exhaustive list of questions to the candidates, the council nominated a short list that included Lombardi, Valenzuela, Aguilar, Paul and Inscoe.
Councilmember Martinez nominated Valenzuela. Her nomination was seconded by Diaz, but opposed by Morasco and the mayor. A deadlock.
Morasco nominated Inscoe, which was seconded by McNamara, but opposed by Diaz and Martinez.
There were no other nominations.
“We have five people on the short list and no nominee,” observed the mayor, who moved to delay the vote to May and further discuss it at that time.
Diaz suggested that a way to cut through the deadlock would be to use a ranked choice process. In such a process, those voting selected their first, second, third, fourth and fifth choice. When these are added together, a “collaborative choice” emerges, “so we don’t get an impasse over and over,” she said.
“I don’t support that,” said McNamara.
Morasco said he had used that type of ranking system in teaching. “I would not support that either in this case,” he said.
The mayor told those who hadn’t made the short list that they could always run for the office in November. “After all,” he said, “none of us live in District two.”
The business for the special meeting having been executed, the council adjourned.