Ret. Marine Col. McNamara taking on Abed

Retired Marine Col. Paul 'Mac' McNamara, right, with supporter Jeff Griffith at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido/Jeff Griffith

Controversial two-term Republican Escondido Mayor Sam Abed has drawn a formidable opponent in the form of retired Marine Corps Col. Paul “Mac” McNamara.

“I’m running for Mayor of Escondido because I believe we can get Escondido back on track,” McNamara said. “As a retired Marine Colonel, and a private sector executive who turned around struggling businesses, I know how to manage large organizations and get things done.

“Over the past several years, we’ve lost our way,” McNamara continued. “As a city, we’ve lost businesses, become enmeshed in divisive politics, and paid tremendously for needless lawsuits due to poor decision making. Meanwhile, our basic services have suffered and our city gained a reputation for its problems, not its many assets.”

McNamara added: “Escondido should be a destination of choice for businesses, new residents, and visitors.”

Abed has been a political lightning rod during his two terms following a stormy time promoting his East Valley Parkway businesses and agendas. He ran afoul of critics alleging he used his influence as mayor to arrange special parking and improvements to properties associated with his family on Grand Avenue.

Lately, Abed ran an ill-fated campaign for county supervisor, finishing third in a 3-person race in which he was criticized for running campaign materials on the city of Escondido website. He was forced to take down the personal promotion ads.

Escondido Mayor Sam Abed gives the 2016 state of the city address/File

Abed also has been embroiled in costly legal disputes involving the defunct Escondido Country Club and its residential backlash to development plans. He has been heavily criticized for ramming through a deal to privatize the Escondido Public Library and his actions pertaining to the city’s rejection of an immigrant shelter for children.

The council’s action on immigrants led to a lawsuit being filed by the American Civil Liberties Union which was eventually settled by the city for $550,000.

Abed has come under fire for exorbitant personnel and litigation costs. Another bone of contention was the seeming instability of city government as Escondido has run through four city managers under Abed’s tenure, while paying the second highest salaries in the county to those managers. The last manager appointed was Jeffrey Epps, following a long tenure as city attorney, bringing on allegations of cronyism.

Abed’s support of Republican candidates like Donald Trump and Darrell Issa and confrontational style has further muddied his name with personal disputes and alleged high-handed behavior chairing Escondido council meetings.

Asked this summer about the entrance of the retired Marine leader in the local mayoral race, Abed said McNamara was “a far-left liberal. From his track record, he has been a union guy. Very liberal,”

McNamara has resided in Escondido for almost 20 years and has been very active in civic affairs throughout. He is serving in his second term as an elected trustee of the Palomar College Governing Board.

An US Marine Corps veteran, McNamara served in multiple operations during his career. He served in Operation Desert Storm and was attaché for the US Defense Intelligence Agency in Mexico City where he focused on human trafficking and counter drugs.

Retired Marine Corps Col. Paul ‘Mac’ McNamara has taken up the challenge of ridding Escondido of reactionary Trump-supporting Mayor Sam Abed/Courtesy

McNamara is executive director of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Museum Foundation. Before this, he spent over a decade of professional work in the private sector with extensive experience in management of defense technology and engineering programs

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1953, McNamara grew up in a hardworking, blue-collar family, then attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison on an NROTC scholarship and was commissioned a 2/Lt in the U.S. Marine Corps upon graduation.

McNamara participated in Operation Desert Storm as well as other smaller operations. He flew in support of relief operations during the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, in the Philippines. He also supported other hurricane and natural disaster relief operations.

McNamara served on diplomatic duty as an attaché for the Defense Intelligence Agency in Mexico City, Mexico.  During this assignment, he focused on three areas – insurgency operations principally in Chiapas, Mexico from the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), and was at one point detained/held by them. Additionally, he focused on counter drug efforts and the smuggling/human trafficking of Chinese immigrants.

“In many circles, Escondido is known as ‘For Lease, California’ because of the high storefront vacancy rate,” McNamara said. “This is unacceptable. One of my primary goals is to make our community attractive for new businesses to open and existing businesses to stay and thrive.

“I will make ‘City of Choice’ more than just a slogan,” McNamara continued. “I want Escondido to be the city that potential businesses, residents, and visitors choose because of the opportunities and quality of life in our community.

McNamara added: “Time for a change. It is the time to elect a mayor who is genuinely public spirited. Escondido politics is failing us. Together, we can turn that around.”

For more about McNamara, visit

1 Comment on "Ret. Marine Col. McNamara taking on Abed"

  1. Escondido Grapevine article describes specifics of the campaign platform of Candidate Paul MacNamara, competing for position of Escondido Mayor in 2018 Election. Article also defines certain contrasts by MacNamara, from policies and divisive practices applied by incumbant Mayor Sam Abed during his two (2) terms as Mayor. MacNamara pledges to apply policies and collaborative practices expected to integrate public outreach during early phase of decisionmaking, instead of announcing ‘groupthink’ decisions already made by Council majority prior to public hearing(s). Unlike Mayor Sam Abed, Candidate Paul MacNamara won’t relinquish credible quality of life concerns, by applying ‘streamlined permit approvals’ that exclude early public review.

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