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Chula Vista elects dead man to city attorney's office, special election coming to fill seat

Chula Vista officials will now prepare for a special election estimated at $2M, since a man who died in September was elected to office.

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Simon Silva, a longtime deputy in the City Attorney's Office, who died in Sept. after a battle with cancer, has been elected Chula Vista City Attorney. 

Silva defeated his opponent Dan Smith, winning 51% of the vote, following the final certification by the San Diego Registrar of Voters on Thursday.

"I'm obviously very disappointed," said Smith, who owns his own law practice in Chula Vista, and lives with his family in Eastlake. He lost to Silva by about a percentage point.

Chula Vista officials will now prepare for a special election since a dead man was elected to office.

Smith told CBS 8 that he plans to run in that election. 

"I'm still very excited about getting the job done," he said. "Let's just get it over with and get it done. It turned partisan: let's not do that again."

Even though the race for city attorney is technically non-partisan, Silva - who was a registered Democrat - continued to be endorsed by the San Diego County Democratic Party even after his death. Smith is a registered Republican.

"I think they should have informed their members to let them know that he was dead and that there would be a special election that would be required," Smith added.

Following Silva's death in September, Chula Vista voters voiced concerns over the possibility of a costly special election.

"Honestly, I think it's a little crazy," said Chula Vista resident Aaron Patronaggio, pointing out what two million dollars could potentially pay for. 

"The roads, the schools, the homeless," he told CBS 8, "a lot of different things that could be used with that money."

Write-in candidates were not allowed for this race because it was a runoff election between the two candidates that advanced in the primary. 

In the meantime, current City Attorney Glen Googins told CBS 8 that he will remain in his position, at least for the short term.

While the earliest a special election could be held in next April, it could possibly be as late as next November, with many other details still to be worked out.

"We don't know if we're going to have a primary and then go on to a general... what a mess that would be," Smith said. 

" Let's hope it doesn't come to that," he added. "I really hope the best for Chula Vista. I want to see the best outcome."

Chula Vista City Council is expected to vote on the details of the upcoming special election at its Dec. 20 meeting.

WATCH RELATED: Chula Vista to consider special election if candidate who died is elected in November (Sep. 2022).



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