CHULA VISTA, Calif. – For the first time in nearly a decade, Chula Vista will soon have a new mayor.

Mary Casillas Salas, a longtime local leader and the South Bay city’s first Latina mayor, is termed out, opening the door for a new crop of candidates to seek one of the city’s top jobs. Six people have thrown their hats in the ring, including two current and one former member of Chula Vista City Council, a community college executive, a retired U.S. Army major and several from the local business community.

In California’s June 7 primary, the top two vote-getters will advance to November’s runoff election, in which voters will decide on the next head of San Diego County’s second-largest city.

These are the candidates vying to be Chula Vista’s next mayor, listed alphabetically by last name, with links to their campaign websites:

Ammar Campa-Najjar

FILE – This Tuesday Nov. 6, 2018 file photo shows Chula Vista mayoral candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar in San Diego in a past run for a congressional seat. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)

Campa-Najjar is a known entity in San Diego County. A Labor Department veteran of the Obama era, he’s previously had two unsuccessful runs for Congress in 2018 against disgraced Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter and in 2020 against current Rep. Darrell Issa.

His campaign website lays out priorities for the eastern and western portions of the city with eyes on public safety, supporting working families and ushering in major community projects, such as bringing a four-year university to east Chula Vista and the Chula Vista Bayfront to west Chula Vista.

He has several endorsements in the race: Chula Vista Firefighters, IAFF Local 2180, Communications Workers of America Local 9509 and United Domestic Workers of America, AFSCME Local 393, among them.

See an interview with Campa-Najjar below:

Spencer Cash (Photo provided by Spencer Cash)

Spencer Cash

A retired Army major with 20 years of service who finished his military career working on the federal government’s COVID-19 response, Cash is running a campaign he says is about fiscal accountability for Chula Vista, criticizing the outgoing mayor for “[neglecting] the taxpayers who have been burdened by the costs of the financial follies of her leadership” in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune.

He’s pledged to balance the city’s budget in 2025, to offer “equitable and incentive pay” to city employees who speak another language, to evaluate and negotiate city expenditures and to further employ initiatives like the Chula Vista police drone program for local police and firefighters.

Zaneta Encarnacion

Zaneta Encarnacion. (Courtesy of Encarnacion campaign)

Encarnacion, the chief of staff at Southwestern College and former executive director of the Rotary Club of Chula Vista and the Chula Vista Charitable Foundation, enters the race as a popular pick. She has nearly 30 endorsements from public officials including the mayors of San Diego, Chula Vista and National City, and from the county’s Democratic Party.

She has prioritized economic development and COVID-19 recovery, building safe and affordable neighborhoods and proposing policies that benefit the city’s youth and senior populations.

She also told the Union-Tribune that the foundation for all of her priorities is “environment, equity and opportunity,” and urged the city to rise to the challenge of the global climate crisis.

See an interview with Encarnacion below:

Jill M. Galvez

Jill Galvez (Courtesy of Galvez campaign)

Galvez has been a member of Chula Vista City Council since 2018 and served as deputy mayor in 2020. She holds various roles in the community as well, including on the MTS Board of Directors and the Metropolitan Wastewater Joint Powers Authority.

She’s touted her time on the council from opening new fire stations to establishing an initiative to maintain city streets. As mayor, she’s pledged to start a street racing police task force, to end the toll road on state Route 125, to exempt military retirement from state income tax, and to help build a four-year university in Chula Vista.

In an interview with the Union-Tribune, Galvez also noted her passion project over the past few years was the development of a door-to-door electric shuttle service for seniors in northwest Chula Vista, an effort she hopes to expand through grant funding to serve the rest of the city and eventually people of all ages.

John McCann. (Courtesy of McCann campaign)

John McCann

Another current member of the council, McCann serves as the city’s deputy mayor. He’s also a lifelong city resident, a small business owner, and an Iraq War vet, his city biography shows. He bills himself as the most qualified candidate running for mayor, having served four terms on the council and as deputy mayor under three different mayors.

The McCann Plan on his website pledges to protect taxpayers by opposing new sales and gas taxes and a proposed SANDAG mileage tax. He said he supports a balanced city budget, helping small businesses and protecting residents and neighborhoods by combatting homelessness.

He is endorsed by the Chula Vista Police Officers Association.

Rudy Ramirez

Rudy Ramirez. (Courtesy of Ramirez campaign)

A former member of Chula Vista City Council and a small business owner, Ramirez last held public office in 2015. He unsuccessfully sought a role on the Chula Vista Elementary School District board in 2014 and the city council’s District 4 seat in 2016.

Ramirez has outlined several key issues for his campaign. Among them, he’s drafted a plan to help the community’s homeless population, to address domestic violence in the community, to reform the city’s economic development efforts and to promote cross-border commerce opportunities.

For more information on other local races in the California June Primary and voting tips, check out our 2022 Election Guide.