With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Georgette Gomez defeated Ricardo Flores by a margin of 54.54 percent to 47.46 percent in the race for the San Diego City Council District 9 seat in Tuesday’s general election.
Gomez, a San Diego State alumna, is a native of Barrio Logan and a current resident of City Heights. She is associate director of Toxic Free Neighborhoods for the Environmental Health Coalition, and is known as a community organizer who has fought for a number of environmental issues.
Marti Emerald, the current council member for District 9 did not seek re-election.
Flores, chief of staff to Emerald led in early returns from mail-in ballots and beat Gomez in the primaries, but Gomez closed in on his lead as Tuesday night turned into Wednesday morning, eventually beating Flores by less than 1,000 votes.
Gomez said Tuesday night she would work to bring “a strong team together, a team that will have experience to ensure that we’re ready to hit the ground running around the issues that are very critical for the district.”
She said she would focus on mini-dorms, affordable housing, promoting small businesses and creating healthy, safe communities.
During her campaign, she ran on a platform to increase affordable housing, expand public transit and improve neighborhood safety. She said she would “shake up City Hall.”
“I’ll change the conversation at City Hall so our neighborhoods, not big downtown special interests, are the focus,” her website said.
Gomez and her supporters showed early confidence in her ability to pull off a win as election results came in.
“The night is still pretty young,” Gomez said after 11 p.m., when she was still trailing Flores with 20 percent of the votes counted.
“We feel like we’re pretty close,” she said. “I’m optimistic that things might turn pretty quickly, but I feel very proud. Above anything else, I feel extremely proud of running a strong grassroots campaign.”
Talmadge resident and Gomez supporter Robert Bray said he believed Gomez ran a stronger campaign than Flores and believed that would eventually put her over the edge.
“A lot of people walking a lot of precincts,” Bray said. “In a lot of areas, she’s just really well received. That’s just my experience from walking the precincts and working with her.”
Many SDSU students said they did not vote in the District 9 election because they did not know enough about the candidates. But of those who did vote, many said they voted for Gomez because her campaign called people individually.
Child and family development senior Anna Ta said she voted for Gomez because of the phone call she received from her campaign. She said she did not receive a call from the Flores campaign.
“I was given a few calls about her and so they gave me details about her, so I decided to vote for her,” Ta said.
Another Gomez supporter, Sandra Alvarado, said Gomez’s experience in working for more affordable housing and other community issues made her a better candidate.
“She was part of the City Heights Area Planning Committee, which she actually mentored me (for) and now I am a part of it,” Alvarado said. “She’s a great mentor, but she also does a lot of things for the community. So if she’s done all of those things as a community member, I can only imagine what she’ll do as a councilwoman.”
The two candidates, who are Democrats, received the most votes in the June 7 primary election, with Flores winning approximately 34 percent of the vote to Gomez’s 30 percent.
As neither won an outright majority, they again faced each other in a runoff during the general election.
Gomez will begin serving her four-year term on Dec. 12.
The College Area is included in District 9, along with the neighborhoods of Kensington, Talmadge, City Heights and part of Southeastern San Diego.
The district’s boundaries were redrawn in 2011 to create a “Latino Empowerment District” with a slight majority of Latinos, according to KPBS.
City Council President Pro Tem Emerald, who is white, went on to win the District 9 seat twice, due in part to high turnout in wealthier, whiter areas of the district such as Kensington and the College Area.
Gomez will now serve as the district’s first Latina councilmember.
The Gomez and Flores campaigns could not be immediately reached for comment after the final election results came in.