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Incumbents leading in San Diego County supervisors’ races

Incumbent county Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Jim Desmond held commanding leads against their challengers Amy Reichert and Tiffany Boyd-Hodgson in the races for county supervisors for the fourth and fifth county districts, according to early election returns Tuesday. A cannabis tax on businesses in the unincorporated county measure was winning by a large margin.

“Thank you San Diego,” Fletcher said minutes later, a tweet showing an image of the election results.

Fletcher, 45, a Democrat, was elected to the fifth district in central San Diego in 2018 after having served in the state Assembly as a Republican and is now serving his second year as chair. After the pandemic began in March 2020, he led the county’s COVID-19 response, along with efforts to modernize mental health care.

Reichert, 54, a Republican and marketing specialist, co-founded ReOpen San Diego, a group that coordinated protests against COVID-19 closures and mask and vaccine mandates.

At the election night celebration for the San Diego County Democratic Party, Fletcher said his substantial lead represented public support for the board’s efforts on the pandemic, mental healthcare and other issues, and a repudiation his opponent’s positions.

“I gotta tell you, this was not a vote for me — far from it,” he said. “This was a vote saying we liked the forward, progressive direction we are taking our county, and we’re not letting any right-wing extremists take us backwards.”

Fletcher added that his election victory was only the first step in efforts to address vexing issues facing San Diego County.

“While we celebrate the endorsement of the people of San Diego, we acknowledge that a lot of folks out there are struggling right now, that they’re hurting, the impact of inflation, the cost of groceries, the cost of gas,” Fletcher added. “So tonight we celebrate, we appreciate, we enjoy this victory. And we know that tomorrow morning when the sun comes up, we get up and we get right back to work.”

Reichert faced an uphill battle in the heavily blue fourth district. where Democrats outnumber Republicans by two to one. As of Nov. 2, Fletcher’s campaign had poured nearly $208,000 into the race, while Reichert’s campaign spent about $164,000, according to her most recent campaign filing on Oct. 27.

Calling her campaign, “the most amazing experience of my life,” Reichert said the support she received as a political newcomer reflected a call for change among a substantial minority of the electorate.

“I’m grateful,” she said. “I’m a first-time candidate, and I want to encourage anybody else who wants to make a difference to speak up, to stand up. Don’t be afraid. And I really hope that Supervisor Nathan Fletcher will start listening to the people. And I congratulate him on his win.”

As supervisor for the fifth district in North County, Desmond, 66, a former commercial airline pilot and mayor of San Marcos, has fought for stronger enforcement on fentanyl trafficking and against placement of sexually violent predators in unincorporated areas. His challenger Boyd-Hodgson, 50, is a Vallecitos Water District Board member and neuroscientist who said she would apply her scientific and analytical skills to public health, homelessness and other issues.

Desmond spent more than $721,000 on his campaign, according to his Oct. 27 disclosure — far more than Boyd-Hodgson, with about $183,000.

Although she’s relatively new to elected office and outspent by her opponent, Boyd-Hodgson enjoys a slight Democratic edge in the newly redrawn district. where Democrats slightly outnumber Republicans. Desmond could not be reached for comment Tuesday night. Boyd-Hodgson declined to comment on the early returns.

The county’s cannabis business tax measure on the ballot, Measure A, would tax gross receipts of cannabis business sales — their total earnings before deducting costs — and set maximum tax rates for different kinds of operations. It’s part of a broader effort by supervisors to overhaul the county’s cannabis policy and expand licenses for legal cannabis operations.

The measure would allow local taxes of up to 6 percent for retail, 3 percent for distribution, 2 percent for testing, either 3 percent or $10 per square foot for cultivation and 4 percent for other related businesses.

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