CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Bart Miesfeld and Marco Verdugo were leading in early results in the special election for Chula Vista city attorney.

Tuesday’s election between Dan Smith Diaz, Bart Miesfeld and Marco Verdugo was held after the unexpected death of the previous candidate elected left the position vacant.

A candidate will need to receive more than 50% of the vote to win outright. If none of the candidates meet the threshold, the top two vote-getters will move to a runoff election on Mar. 5 next year. Whoever is elected will serve out the remainder of the term, which runs through December 2026.

“Early results are showing that the voters do want me to be city attorney. You know, I was city attorney before,” Miesfeld said to FOX 5 Tuesday night. “Experience for this job really counts, it really matters.”

“I’m fired up to win this campaign, serve the city I’ve always called home and protect Chula Vista’s families, finances, and future as the City’s Attorney,” Verdugo said in an emailed statement to FOX 5.

“I would like to thank all the Chula Vistans that supported me and I hope they choose a true Chula Vistan to be their next city attorney,” Smith Diaz said in a statement to FOX 5.

The late Simon Silva passed from cancer during the November 2022 race after his name could not be removed from the ballots. He beat his opponent by 756 votes.

After Silva won, Chula Vista officials started planning for a special election, as the city charter requires. However, the move drew some controversy, given encouragement from local leaders to cast their ballot for Silva anyways despite his passing and the high price tag for the election.

The Chula Vista City Attorney is the city’s highest ranking lawyer, leading an office that provides legal services and policy guidance to other elected officials. The primary goal of these services is to help the city develop and implement policy, according to the city’s website.

The office works with all the city’s boards and commissions. It also works with each of the Chula Vista municipal departments, including the city clerk’s office, public works, and police and fire departments.

FOX 5’s Danielle Dawson contributed to this report.