Residents of the wealthy northern reaches of San Diego, wooed by political candidates and campaign literature because they can be counted on to vote, turned out in disproportionately high numbers last week and gave Proposition A its wide margin of victory, election records show.
A precinct-by-precinct vote breakdown released Wednesday shows that the growth management initiative won by a margin of nearly 2 to 1 in District 1, which includes La Jolla, Rancho Bernardo and much of the urban reserve that Proposition A would protect.
"Well, they wanted to keep their own backyards pristine," remarked David Lewis, a consultant to the defeated opposition forces.
Proposition A's supporters traced the totals to their strategy of targeting the heavy-turnout district.
In other races, the returns show that political neophyte Abbe Wolfsheimer defeated eight-year incumbent Bill Mitchell in every district but his own, and lost to him there by only 263 out of 26,539 votes cast.
In the only other close race--in District 7, where Judy McCarty defeated Jeanette Roache--relatively few voters cast ballots for those two candidates. Observers traced the shortfall to the little-known candidates and their portrayal in the press as basically similar.
The returns, prepared by the county registrar of voters, were intended to be the final word on the Nov. 5 vote. But the registrar's office discovered after releasing the results that about 1,000 absentee ballots had not been counted.
The numbers are to be recertified today, and no winners are expected to change. Assistant Registrar Keith Boyer said the absentee ballots, cast at polling places throughout the county, were misplaced when workers put them in the wrong containers for shipping to headquarters.
Also scheduled for a recount is the tally on Vista's Proposition K, which would have created a Vista redevelopment authority but failed by three votes. That recount is to take place Monday. Boyer said none of the errant absentee ballots came from Vista.
According to the numbers for San Diego released Wednesday, Proposition A passed in District 1 by 17,650 to 8,911--that is, with 66.4% of the vote in the district with the second-highest number of registered voters and the highest rate of voter turnout.
Within the district, the initiative carried all the precincts of Rancho Bernardo, Penasquitos and Del Mar Heights. It carried all of University City and all but one of the 37 precincts in La Jolla.
"That's exactly what we were shooting for," said Bob Glaser, a member of the La Jolla Group, the political consultants for Proposition A. "If you win District 1, 2 to 1, and break even in all the other districts, you're going to win the election."
The initiative also won by significant margins in District 5, which includes Miramar Naval Air Station and a chunk of the urban reserve, and in District 6, where Councilman Mike Gotch was one of the initiative's most vocal supporters.
It failed by 224 out of 21,472 votes cast in District 7, the eastern district where both McCarty and Roache spoke against it. It failed in District 4, which includes Southeast San Diego, and carried Mid-City and District 3 by only 22 out of 16,530 votes cast.
"Well, we stand the most to lose from Proposition A--the 3rd, the 4th and the 7th," McCarty said. Critics say Proposition A will destroy San Diego's older neighborhoods by retaining the 1979 ban on development in the urban reserve and thus channeling growth into developed areas.
However, some older neighborhoods gave the initiative overwhelming support. It carried almost all of Mission Hills, Hillcrest, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach and Ocean Beach--a fact that Glaser traced to his forces' last-minute efforts there to get out the vote.
In the council races, Mitchell's only very strong showing was in Rancho Bernardo--his home base, known for its high turnout. He won a little more than half the precincts in Penasquitos, but lost almost all of La Jolla, much of University City, and every other district.
Mitchell's near loss in District 1 coupled with Proposition A's giant victory there rekindled speculation that Mitchell had been ill-advised to remain neutral on the initiative.
"I feel that if he had endorsed Proposition A and carried it as his banner, he would have been elected," Glaser said. " . . . I really don't know why he didn't. We were very strong in his district. His own polling showed that."
In the District 7 race between Roache and McCarty, the total votes cast came to 126,212. Nearly 10,000 more were cast in the Wolfsheimer-Mitchell race. And 3,000 to 4,000 more votes were cast in the District 3 and 5 races, even though Councilwoman Gloria McColl and Councilman Ed Struiksma were considered shoo-ins.
"We weren't known," McCarty said of herself and Roache, both of whom were first-time candidates. "We had no name identification. And the press painted us as having no differences."
One similarity was that both women live in Navajo, although Roache moved there recently from Mira Mesa. McCarty won most of the Navajo precincts; Roache took most of Mira Mesa. McCarty also did well in District 1, which her campaign had targeted for its reliable voters.
Overall, turnout was highest in District 1, where county records indicate that 36.55% of the 74,213 registered voters turned out. That rate is more than twice that of District 4, where the turnout was the lowest in the city with only 7,685 ballots cast.
The citywide turnout rate was 27.93%. That figure is significantly lower than the rates reported elsewhere in the county: 39.19% in Imperial Beach, 38.78% in Montgomery, and 35.28% in Vista.
Vote on Proposition A All but two districts in San Diego voted in favor of Proposition A, the initiative designed to prohibit the City Council from removing land from the urban reserve without the voters' consent. Here is the district-by-district breakdown of the vote last Tuesday.
Yes No District 1 17,650 8,911 District 2 8,945 6,567 District 3 8,276 8,254 District 4 3,310 4,043 District 5 8,920 7,261 District 6 13,172 9,059 District 7 10,624 10,848 District 8 6,298 5,324 TOTAL 77,195 60,267