Not so funny thing happened on way to filling Escondido’s vacant District 2 Council seat

Councilman John Masson death in March after a lengthy battle with cancer left his District 2 seat open and now subject of a November election after th four remaining council members couldn't agree on a replacement/Facebook

In a nice political Seinfeld scenario, nothing happened with Escondido’s vacant District 2 seat last week and last month.

However, this black cloud has the proverbial silver lining that will be lifted in November as Escondido voters will have the opportunity to vote on the matter.

After three hours hours interviewing candidates for the city’s District 2 seat, previously held by the late John Masson, the Escondido City Council adjourned its April 22 meeting without making an appointment.

The four council members — Mayor Paul McNamara, Deputy Mayor Consuelo Martinez, Olga Diaz and Mike Morasco — interviewed nine candidates for the vacant seat on April 28, 2020.

Council members, according to The Coast News, narrowed the group down to five: Tina Ostrem Inscoe, a membership executive of the Escondido Chamber of Commerce; Vanessa Valenzuela, who ran against John Masson for the District 2 seat two years ago; Barbara C. Aguilar, a development specialist at Escondido Community Child Development Center; Scotty Lombardi, a business leader with broad human resources experience; and Richard Paul, a director at an electronics manufacturer in San Marcos.

Two candidates were then nominated, but each nomination failed.

Valenzuela, a Democrat, was nominated by Martinez, which was seconded by Diaz. However, the nomination was opposed by Morasco and McNamara.

Next was Inscoe, a Republican, who was nominated by Morasco. The nomination was seconded by McNamara but opposed by Martinez and Diaz.

Diaz then proposed a ranked-choice voting process, which both McNamara and Morasco opposed.

Then, it was on to May 6

The Escondido City Council voted Wednesday, May 6 to let voters decide who will fill the vacant, by putting the opening to a special election in November., according to The San Diego Union Tribune.

The council reached that decision after twice deadlocking on potential appointments, with the four remaining council members split between two nominees. Councilwomen Olga Diaz and Consuelo Martinez voted to appoint Democrat Vanessa Valenzuela to the seat, while Mayor Paul McNamara and Councilman Michael Morasco favored Republican Tina Ostrem Inscoe, whose party affiliation matches Masson’s.

The council agreed to place the matter on the November ballot as a special election item, which will be decided at the same time as the Presidential general election. Diaz said that’s an equitable solution that will be fair to voters.

Any of the nine applicants, along with any other prospective candidates, are eligible to run for the office in November, McNamara said. Whoever wins the seat would serve for the remaining two years of Masson’s term, and then would have to run for re-election in 2022, when that term would have ended, McNamara said.

Wait there’s more, courtesy of Margaret McCown Liles and her A Blue View for Escondido

The indomitable Liles who has been knocked down a bit in the last years and aways gets up better than ever, attended the first session considring Masson’s replacement. Liles started blogging about the Escondido City Council following the demise of the North County Times as a public resource. Please visit her blog at Here is her account…

“I suppose I should not have been surprised when Mayor Paul McNamara voted for the obvious Chamber of Commerce’s candidate, Tina Inscoe, in tonight’s virtual city council meeting to appoint someone to fill Councilman John Masson’s seat. After the way he threw Councilwoman Olga Diaz under the bus in her run for the supervisorial seat, I should not have been surprised since he seems to have gone over to the dark side, or perhaps, he just doesn’t like uppity women. But I was. Surprised, and very, very disappointed.

I watched as Republican dominated councils appointed Councilman Mike Morasco to fill Marie Waldron’s seat when she was elected to the California State Assembly. Morasco was then able to run as an incumbent two years later. Then John Masson to fill Sam Abed’s seat when Abed became Mayor. Again Masson was able to run as an incumbent two years later. And I thought, “well, at last!” The council can appoint a Democrat this time, if only for a half year or so. They could appoint Vanessa Valenzuela, who could then run in this November’s election as an incumbent. But, it is evidently not to be.

McNamara said at the beginning of the meeting that the council would select a short list of candidates to consider, after the council members had asked the candidates questions. Each question would be answered by all candidates. The candidates would each begin with an opening statement. Each council member could nominate one or more candidates for the short list, and a second by one other member would put that candidate on the short list.

The questions did not go as smoothly as could be desired. For some reason Nicole Downey was not able to be on screen, they were able to get her voice heard, so we could hear her answers. Usually the audio was not in sync with the picture. Jeff Griffith looked as though we were seeing him in a fun-house mirror. But, considering the difficulty of putting such a virtual session together, it really went pretty well.

Altogether there were nine candidates who had applied for the vacant council seat, including three perennial candidates, Nicole Downey, Jeff Griffith, and Rick Paul. The candidates all seemed well qualified, well except for the naval officer who is still in active service in the Navy and living for the nonce in Florida.

I thought Councilman Mike Morasco’s question as to what each candidate felt was a more important quality in serving on the council, articulating their ideas or listening to others, was a unique and excellent question. One of the candidates, Scotti Lombardi, said jokingly he loved answering trick questions. But all of the candidates emphasized that both abilities were pretty essential. They all liked the direction the current council was taking the city, but also all recognized that the Covid 19 pandemic would make keeping the city going very difficult.

Five applicants made the short list, Barbara Aguilar, Inscoe, Lombardi, Paul, and Valenzuela. Then McNamara asked if any council member wanted to nominate a candidate to fill the seat. Councilwoman Consuelo Martinez nominated Valenzuela, and Diaz seconded the motion. That’s when my jaw dropped. Martinez and Diaz both vote yea and McNamara and Morasco voted nae. Then Morasco, of course, nominated Inscoe, and again the vote was split in the expected (newly expected by me) way.

Diaz came up with what could have provided a compromise, suggesting that perhaps at the May meeting, the council could vote for the five on the short list by ranked voting—that is, they would show their first, second and maybe third choice for the seat. But McNamara didn’t like that idea, and neither did Morasco. I guess they think they can convince Martinez or Diaz to vote for Inscoe. Have to admit, Inscoe seemed very nice, far from uppity. But, I hope Martinez and Diaz will hold strong. .And that’s the way it was left. It will be taken up again at the May 6th meeting.

I suppose it is all pretty minor in the scope of today’s overwhelming Covid disaster. Frankly I’m surprised that many people would volunteer for what will, I’m sure, turn out to be a difficult if not impossible job. Since Escondido depends on sales tax, which, except for groceries, gas, and other essential businesses, has pretty much dried up as a source of revenue. Things are going to be very tough. I think having a financial expertise like Valenzuela’s would be very helpful at this time.”

Be the first to comment on "Not so funny thing happened on way to filling Escondido’s vacant District 2 Council seat"

Leave a comment