Larry Breitfelder, leading vote-getter for open Chula Vista seat, resigning as Otay Water District trustee

Barry Jantz Barry Jantz 9 Comments

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When was the last time a candidate for office voluntarily gave up an existing elected title in the middle of a campaign?

It’s happening in the Chula Vista City Council election.  What’s more, it’s happening in a contested race, in a key business-labor battleground city, as the leading vote-getter in the June 8 primary is now seemingly dismissing the very ballot title that likely helped him qualify for the November run-off in the first place.

In what can only be described as a political head-scratcher, Republican Larry Breitfelder, who handily led the field for an open Chula Vista council seat last week, is now resigning his post as an elected member of the Otay Water District after serving eight years.  His current term as an Otay trustee is due to expire at the end of the year.

The Otay Water District is holding a special board meeting at noon Thursday to accept Breitfelder’s resignation and to discuss the process for potentially filling the resulting vacancy by appointment.  (See Otay Board Meeting Packet 6-17-10, including the Wednesday resignation letter.)

Breitfelder’s ballot designation in the Chula Vista City Council primary election was “Elected Board Member, Otay Water District.”  His three opponents were respectively listed as follows:

AGUILAR, PATRICIA
CA
Community Group President

-Patricia Aguilar, Community Group President

-Jill Galvez, Businesswoman

-Humberto Peraza, Senior Policy Advisor

With hundreds of absentee and provisional ballots left to count, Breitfelder is easily leading the field with 10,409 votes.  He will face either Galvez or Aguilar in the November run-off; the two are currently within 80 votes of each other, each with about 6,300.

The fact that Breitfelder was the only candidate with an elected title cannot be easily dismissed by political watchers.  Some might call it an “aura of incumbency,” others would simply say that many voters in local elections — not having much real knowledge of any of the candidates — are often apt to select someone that is perceived to have experience.  A sitting water board member is bound to make a qualified city councilmember, so goes the thought, and voters may very well make a last-minute decision in the ballot box based on the competing candidates’ ballot titles.

No one will ever know for sure if Breitfelder’s ballot title helped him literally run away from the field in the primary, in addition to the fact he ran a great campaign.

Yet, it then stands that no one knows for sure whether he will be hampered in the general election without the title. The key here is whether Breitfelder will be able to continue to list himself on the November ballot with the same title.  Most say not a chance.

SD Rostra has a message to him in that regard, asking that very thing.

Something is for sure, however.  Instead of resigning, in August of this year Breitfelder could have simply not filed for re-election to his Otay Water board position, which would then have opened up his seat for a regular November election.  In the meantime, he could have continued to serve the citizens of Otay until the end of the year, while still being able to rightfully refer to himself as an elected trustee, including on the ballot.  In fact, his Otay term would have expired at the same time  he would be seated as a Chula Vista councilmember, if successful for that seat.

It could be that Breitfelder wants to dedicate his time to the November run-off election, and thus feels he doesn’t have time to dedicate to Otay Water District business.  Could be.

By resigning, it does provide his Otay colleagues the opportunity to fill his vacancy by appointment, with the new trustee able to run for the seat in November as an appointed incumbent.  Yet, why any candidate for higher office would trade away his current elected title in exchange for giving a leg up to someone for his former seat is beyond my pay grade.

Someone help us out here.  Larry?

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Comments 9

  1. Just a note – Larry would not be able to run in November for his seat as he is running for another office and you cannot run for both at the same time, so he had already made the decision to give up his seat if he made the run-off. With that said, it boggles the mind why he would quit his seat early – you are right on point with your questions Barry! It makes no sense to give up the title of elected representative when you are running against someone without a title, it only makes sense that it is a perceived advantage. As for whether or not Larry ran a great campaign in the Primary… that is still up for debate. He got votes thanks to his face on the Prop G literature, but still only took away 59% of the Yes on G supporters’ votes – and obviously his hits on Galvez didn’t do much damage to her. He is in for a hot race in November with no Proposition to use for free campaigning. Is he up to the challenge?

  2. The fact of the vote count is this: LB was outvoted by the Dems nearly 2-1 in the aggregate totals. Because he wasted so much valuable time in which it appears he sat on his fanny and did no precinct work, he is starting from scratch. I have not seen his money totals but in a tough economy this is no time to have not used the primary to solidify a base.

    His primary win clearly was due to his face being splattered on all prop G material. That will be gone out of the voters minds soon enough.

    Larry is good as cozying up to Democrats. We’ll see if they repay him for all of his support to them:

    Larry and his Dem alliances which he failed to report to the Republicans on his endorsement request:

    Assisant Campaign Director-Steve Padilla
    Support and Campaign contributions-Pamella Benssoussan
    Support and Campaign contributions-Steve Castaneda
    Endorsement-Pearl Quionnes

    Just to name a few……..

  3. It looks like a runoff between Larry and Jill in November. I know them both and feel each would be a good councilmember. From one perspective I prefer a politically balanced council and we should have a Republican (Larry) fill this seat. According to Russ Hall, Larry is more liberal than Jill, the pro business candidate. So we have a conservative Dem running against a liberal Rep? Wow, I am in agreement with Susan Watry, this will be good theater!

  4. David:

    To correct politely, I’ve never publicly proclaimed Larry as being a liberal other than pointing out his constant support for Democrat friends of his. If Larry would have done what I suggested that he do back in the summer of ’09 (which is change party affiliation to Democrat), he would have redeemed himself honestly. He wasn’t going to do that because it was easier to cherry-pick a light to non-existent Republican field instead of having to run head on into the likes of Galvez and Perraza. Politically, it was a smart move for him.

    Subsequently, he perjured his Republican endorsement request documents by apparently (on purpose) neglecting to mention all of his support to Democrat candidates over the last several years. I forgot to mention that on You Tube during a recent community forum,Larry proclaimed his support for Rudy Ramirez. He just can’t help himself. Well, he gets away with this because there is nothing in the Republican Party by-laws that address his egregious behavior. So the Party is reluctantly stuck with him. There is a reason why this guy was not able to secure one single endoresement from Chula Vista civic leaders.

    Know this about Larry: Larry is for Larry. He blows in the direction of the wind that best suits him at the moment. He is not a “liberal” and he is not a “conservative”. He is just Larry which explains his latest move off of the water board.

  5. I am confused. Russ Hall is whacking away at Larry B because Larry endorsed several Democrats running for non-partisan offices in the past…..even suggests Larry should have switched parties
    . Didn’t Russ just endorse Jill Galvez, a Democrat running for a
    non-partisan council seat? Who might we expect to switch parties?
    I do empathize with Russ. No one is staying in their own little boxes. In fact, in almost fifty years of watching Chula Vista politics I’ve never seen such an array of strange bedfellows on all fronts – candidate and issues alike.

  6. I’m not judging or attacking, but It is somewhat ironic. “I’m endorsing the democrat because the republican running endorsed democrats.” I will say this, Russ Hall has acted in a classy and respectable manor since getting engaged in all this.

  7. Folks, let me be clear, I am endorsing Jill Galvez because she is a superior candidate to the rest. She has an actual bonafide resume. In LB’s case, we have yet to figure out what he has done for a living if you try to make sense of his job “resume”.

    Galvez being a Democrat is the least of my concerns in this case. I challenge anyone to put the resumes side by side and judge for yourself. Galvez has solid business credentials. The other three candidates appeared to have never held any serious private sector positions.

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