San Diego

El Cajon City Council Chooses Kalasho's Replacement

The El Cajon City Council's vacant District 1 seat has been filled after a unanimous vote, City Manager Graham Mitchell confirmed Tuesday.

The City Council nominated and unanimously approved Phil Ortiz to fill the seat that has been vacant since Ben Kalasho announced his resignation in late March.

Mitchell said more details would be released by the city on Wednesday.

Ben Kalasho announced his resignation from the council March 26. He called his time on the council educational, but said he was constantly “battling my colleagues on agenda items and the general direction that my colleagues wanted for the city.”

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells told NBC 7 Kalasho’s time on the council was a nightmare and said his behavior was horrible.

“I’m just glad he’s out,” Wells said.

In September, Kalasho was served a lawsuit at a City Council meeting that alleged Kalasho violated a man's free speech by blocking his comments on the councilmember's official Facebook page. He is also accused of harassment.

The lawsuit was settled later in the same month.

Kalasho was not the only politician in San Diego County to be sued for blocking members of the public from accessing their social media accounts. He was, however, the first elected official in San Diego to settle.

In his resignation letter, Kalasho said he and his wife had resolved a separate legal matter – a lawsuit that alleged the council member sexually harassed a 2016 Miss Middle East Beauty Pageant contestant and fixed the outcome so she would lose after she denied his advances.

Click here to read Kalasho's full resignation letter.

Kalasho was filling an at-large seat, city offiicals said. The term was set to expire in November 2020.

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