IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. — Councilmember Paloma Aguirre came out on top in the race for mayor of Imperial Beach, defeating her closest competitor Republican Shirley Nakawatase, election results showed Thursday.
Aguirre had just over 45% of the vote while Nakawatase was close behind with nearly 40%. The two candidates were separated by just 347 votes.
Ballot counts were coming in waves to determine the next mayor of Imperial Beach.
“So fingers crossed. We’ll see how it goes,” mayoral candidate Paloma Aguirre said.
“Yeah, there’s votes still coming in,” mayoral candidate Shirley Nakawatase said. “You never know.”
“Our margin narrowed overnight. We’re cautiously optimistic that the next batch will again widen it. It’s early. We’re just hopeful,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre is a Democrat and will be the first Latina mayor of Imperial Beach. She says some of her priorities will include addressing the sewage spills from Mexico.
“It affects our environment. It affects our economy. It affects public health. Housing affordability is huge. 70% of residents in IB are renters. So a lot of people are facing displacement,” Aguirre said.
“I ran because I wanted to have the best for Imperial Beach,” Nakawatase said.
Nakawatase also seeks to fix the sewage spill problem.
“If I could have the miracle happen where the United States and Mexico could work together and solve this. That would be a beautiful, beautiful thing. I think we got to get a lot of support from our federal government,” Nakawatase said.
In third place was John “Jack” Fisher, who serves the city as mayor pro tem.
In last place was Vance Locke, who is on the ballot but did not campaign.