By David Allen | dallen@scng.com | Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Published: November 11, 2018 at 10:00 am | Updated: November 11, 2018 at 10:01 am

The blue wave, teal ripple, purple eddy or whatever combination color/water feature we saw at the national level promises divided government, which is often the best kind.

We didn’t see anything like that at our local city halls. City council races are nonpartisan. But we did see some of the first effects of the shift from at-large to district elections, forced upon some of our cities by legal threat.

Take Chino. Elections there are often canceled because only the incumbents file to run. This time, with three district seats, there were eight candidates.

“I think it’s because we opened up with the districting situation,” Tom Haughey, a councilman, told me Friday.

It’s also attributable to what had been a managed turnover on the council due to appointments to fill two vacancies last year. That was after more than a decade without a change on the council.

Would-be candidates in the past probably stayed out, knowing they didn’t have a serious shot, Haughey theorized. This time, “because we had two candidates that were recently appointed, others thought they had a chance to win a position,” he said.

Appointee Paul Rodriguez was elected Tuesday to serve until 2020, when the term of Glenn Duncan, whom he replaced last year, expires. He had one challenger, Tyra Weis, for the District 1 seat.

Fellow appointee Gary George in District 5 didn’t fare so well. The community-minded George might have seemed like a shoo-in but lost to newcomer Marc Lucio. Lucio took an anti-development tact and may have benefited from being first on the ballot and from being a sheriff’s lieutenant.

In District 2, four candidates jousted to replace Earl Elrod, who wasn’t seeking re-election after 20 years. Mark Hargrove, a retired lieutenant at the Chino prison, bested Dorothy Pineda, Gloria Negrete McLeod and Sylvia Orozco.

One lesson: Being in law enforcement doesn’t hurt your chances to win election. Assuming the results hold, Chino will have two new council members in Hargrove and Lucio, plus Rodriguez, who’s been on the dais only 16 months.

Chino Hills, Rancho Cucamonga and Upland likewise had their first district elections.

In Chino Hills, incumbents Ray Marquez and Peter Rogers had no opponents, unlike Brian Johsz, an appointee who fended off three of them.

Rancho Cucamonga got new council members in districts 2 and 3 in the persons of Kristine Scott and, perhaps, Marc Steinorth, who after updated results Friday afternoon led Ryan Hutchison by a mere two votes. (If you’re a friend of Hutchison’s and didn’t vote, better lie low for a while.) Incumbents Bill Alexander and Diane Williams retired, leaving the field wide open.

Mayor Dennis Michael, who was openly worried about his chances, breezed to victory with 57 percent of the vote over two challengers.

Ah, but Upland was a different story. Isn’t it always?

Two incumbents, Gino Filippi and Carol Timm, appear to have been ousted in districts 3 and 4 in favor of Ricky Felix and Rudy Zuniga, respectively.

Two take-aways: Upland, which if memory serves has never had a Latino on the City Council in its history, may soon have two. And Filippi, facing two challengers, came in last despite being well-known throughout the valley. District elections really change the calculus for gaining or holding onto a seat.

Janice Elliott made a bold play to seek election in District 2 despite having two years left on her at-large seat. She beat the establishment candidate, Yvette Walker, in the campaign to fill the seat vacated by Sid Robinson.

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