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(This article originally appeared HERE on Voice of San Diego.)
Midway through Myrtle Cole’s speech at a union hall Tuesday night, a supporter stood up behind her holding up signs with photos of Cole and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.
Victory, the signs read.
When Cole turned to see the photos, another supporter announced the latest vote tally had given her an insurmountable lead in the District 4 City Council race.
Cole, a health care union worker, led San Diego LGBT Pride Executive Director Dwayne Crenshaw 53.46 percent to 46.64 percent with all precincts reporting, according to the County Registrar of Voters. As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, Crenshaw had not conceded.
Cole said she wants to prioritize job growth, public safety and neighborhood development. Residents from District 4, which includes Encanto, Paradise Hills, Skyline and other neighborhoods in the city’s southeast, have long argued that they don’t receive a fair share of city services.
Cole, who was endorsed by the Democratic Party, has credited the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council with propelling her from someone with low name identification to the first-place finisher in the March primary. Since then, Cole continued to gain support from labor groups and high-profile elected officials, such as Filner. She counted two members of Congress, four state legislators and two city council members among her backers.
“They believed in me,” Cole told roaring supporters. “They saw my work. They know my integrity.”
Cole more than doubled Crenshaw’s votes in the primary, but the race tightened significantly in the runoff.
Crenshaw, also a Democrat, received endorsements from most of the other contenders in a crowded primary, support from groups representing the district’s growing Hispanic and Asian populations and conservative organizations such as the Lincoln Club of San Diego County. The labor vs. Lincoln Club faceoff fueled increasingly nasty campaign where total spending topped $630,000.
“This was almost like hell week, but for five months,” Cole said.
Cole has worked in and out of San Diego politics since she became a council aide more than two decades ago. She ran the campaign of former District 4 Councilman Tony Young, who resigned in January to become head of the local chapter of the Red Cross.
Cole’s victory will restore the balance of the City Council to a 5-4 Democratic split.
Throughout the campaign Cole argued that she could best deliver for the district because she had the best relationships with the right people. She returned to that theme in her victory speech.
She pointed at Mickey Kasparian, who heads the union representing food and commercial workers.
“You better put a grocery store in my district,” she said.
Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He covers how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next?
Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.550.5663.