Last night’s election in Escondido (Cal.) was a mixed bag for ballpark proponents, as a vocal opponent of the proposed Portland Beavers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) ballpark was voted in over the former mayor, a staunch advocate of the project.
Former councilman Ed Gallo, an opponent of public funding for the ballpark, won a seat on the council, edging out Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler, who initiated the process of building a new $50 million ballpark for the relocated Beavers. Now, the ballpark wasn’t necessarily a key issue in the election — indeed, local coverage indicated that illegal immigration was a far more important issue for voters — but the presence of Gallo does present issues for San Diego Padres owner Jeff Moorad, who has a tentative deal in place to buy the Bevos and have them playing in a new ballpark down the road. (Moorad is pushing for 2012; in 2011 the Beavers will play temporarily in Tucson Electric Park.) Also losing in the election: Councilman Dick Daniels, another sure vote for the project.
Other ballpark proponents did well in the election, with Councilman Sam Abed snaring the mayor’s seat and Councilwoman Marie Waldron — along with Pfeiler one of the shakers and movers behind the ballpark project — winning their races easily. And two candidates who were also vocal opponents of the ballpark project lost in their bids for office.
Still, the election muddies the waters for ballpark passage. Currently the plan is to have the Escondido City Council vote on the ballpark proposal on Nov. 30, before the newcomers are seated. However, if that date slips, the new council would take up the ballpark proposal, and passage — if it happens — would surely not be unanimous, a stated goal for Moorad and crew. While the elections were not a direct refudiation of the ballpark project, they did expose mixed support for the public funding of the facility.
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