San Diego

El Cajon's District 1 Race Heats up As Election Looms

Recent redistricting in El Cajon has two current City Council members running against each other for the seat in District 1.

Voters in the district, which is made up mostly of residents from the Fletcher Hills area, say it’s getting ugly and some scenes around town speak to their point.

NBC7 found a Ben Kalasho campaign sign defaced with graffiti along Fletcher Parkway. A sign was posted over the spray paint asking “Who did this?”

Charmaine Wallace and her husband Steven, who grew up in the part of El Cajon that is now District 1, say only Ben Kalasho’s signs are being damaged.

“I kind of feel bad, but then there must be a reason,” Charmaine said.

Fletcher Hills business owner Erik Weichelt says he is supporting candidate and current council member Gary Kendrick over Kalasho, despite the latter’s pro-business stance.

“I think there's been too much negativity when it comes to how he interacts with folks in the community,” Weichelt said.

Kalasho did not respond to a request for comment from NBC 7.

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

Councilmember Gary Kendrick has been on the council for 16 years and tells NBC 7 the city has been working to address the homeless problem with a new East County shelter. Kendrick also says El Cajon is seeing a good bit of revitalization.

“We have the four-star Marriott Hotel that just opened downtown six months ago and they have occupancy that has run from 85 to 100 percent since it opened, and we've got the East County Performing Arts Center right behind us that will be opening in February,” Kendrick said.

But in order to continue improving the lives of people in El Cajon, Kendrick says the people need a council that can work together to get things done.

If Kendrick takes the seat, Kalasho will remain on the El Cajon City Council to serve out the remaining two years of the four-year term he was elected to serve before the redistricting took place.

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