Lightner leads Ellis in race for council seat

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SAN DIEGO — Incumbent San Diego City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner took an early lead over businessman and philanthropist Ray Ellis tonight in the first results released by the Registrar of Voters office.

Lightner had 52.5 percent from absentee and early voting ballots, compared to 47.5 for Ellis in District 1, in the northwest portion of the city.

The race is the only one for City Council that went to a November runoff.

Councilman Todd Gloria was re-elected outright in June and Councilwoman Marti Emerald was returned to office in the newly created District 9. Scott Sherman won Emerald’s old district outright in a close race in the primary, and Mark Kersey was tabbed by voters to succeed Councilman Carl DeMaio, who gave up his seat to run for mayor.

The voters’ decision in District 1 will determine the balance of partisan power in what is a technically nonpartisan City Council.

The result could affect issues like who gets picked as the next council president and which council members get the various committee assignments and chairmanships. It could also have an impact if someone from the same party is elected mayor, or not.

In practice, partisanship has meant little in day-to-day operations of the panel under the leadership of current council President Tony Young over the past two years.