Updated at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 7, 2012
Republican Mary England couldn’t overcome history, demographics and a huge fundraising disparity in her bid to represent the redrawn 79th Assembly District.
Instead, Democrat Shirley Weber—a San Diego State University professor and former San Diego school board member—became the first black woman from San Diego elected to the state Legislature.
With all 295 precincts counted, Weber claimed 60.3 percent of the vote to 39.7 percent for England, the retiring Lemon Grove councilwoman. England lost by 21,460 votes.
England, who also serves as president and chief executive officer at the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce and sits on several boards, said the past few months have been grueling.
She was at a Lemon Grove City Council meeting Tuesday night.
“I’ve had three full-time jobs the past several months," she said before the voting began.
Assemblyman Brian Jones—who helped persuade England to run and who easily won re-election himself Tuesday in the 71st District—said: “Unfortunately, (England) could not compete with the money that was raised by her opponent.”
Weber collected $407,147 from Jan. 1 through Oct. 20, and she spent $405,765, according to state filings. England collected $79,755 during that period and spent $57,967.
Said Weber: “Fundraising is often a reflection of the support you have from the public. And a lot of my financial support comes from individuals in the district.”
England’s donors included Assemblyman Jones ($3,900), the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation ($2,000), EMS Management LLC (two $2,000 contributions), EDCO Disposal ($1,500), Marcel Becker of JCI Metal Products ($1,000), California Nations Indian Gaming Association Protection Fund ($1,000), businessman and former Chula Vista Councilman David Malcolm ($500), Mark McMillin of the Corky McMillin Cos. ($500) and La Mesa Councilwoman Ruth Sterling ($100), according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
Weber’s donors included the Barona Band of Mission Indians ($3,900), the Association of California State Supervisors ($3,800), the California Association of Highway Patrolmen ($2,500), Charlena James of the California Nurses Federation ($2,000) and CDF Firefighters ($2,000).
Other donors to Weber were Walgreens ($1,500), Assemblywoman Toni Atkins ($1,000), University of San Diego professor Roy Brooks ($1,000), Thella Bowens of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority ($200) and San Diego Community College District Chancellor Constance Carroll ($200), according to the Secretary of State’s office.
The 79th District includes Lemon Grove and La Mesa, along with parts of Spring Valley, Chula Vista and San Diego. Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than one-third in the district, with nearly 1 in 4 voters declining to record a party preference when they registered.
Weber indicated her focus in Sacramento will be on education, saying: “It is a passion of mine.”
“But I’m also going there to fight so we can create more jobs,” she said. “I will continue to work with our business community and our high-tech community to do what we can to put people back to work.”
Jones said he helped recruit England to run for the seat because “she had the willingness and energy to do it, and that’s really the most important thing. She also is well-known in both La Mesa and Lemon Grove, so she had a strong base of support in the district.”
Said England: “It’s a brand new district. It's an open seat. And it’s in my back yard, so to speak. I thought it would be a great opportunity to serve.”
Weber and England earned the right to face each other in the Nov. 6 election by finishing in the top two in a June primary that also included Chula Vista Councilman Rudy Ramirez, business executive Matt Mendoza, educator Patricia Ann Washington and longtime community activist and Democrat Sid Voorakkara.
Weber secured 30.5 percent of the vote in the open primary; England was favored by 29.1 percent of those casting ballots.
About one-third of those living in the district are white, one-third are Latino, nearly 19 percent are Asian and more than 10 percent are black, according to the Registrar of Voters Office.