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Local Lightner wins city council seat

Small business owner Sherri Lightner, community representative Todd Gloria and investigative reporter Marti Emerald were all victorious this morning as final returns in races for three open San Diego City Council seats were released.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Lightner defeated businessman Phil Thalheimer for the District 1 seat with 51.85 percent of the vote against 48.15 percent, while Gloria defeated American Red Cross spokesman Stephen Whitburn for the District 3 seat with 54.88 percent, compared to 45.12.

Emerald defeated certified public accountant April Boling for the District 7 seat with 50.8 percent of the vote compared to 49.2 percent.

All three district seats are being vacated by council members who have to leave office due to term limits.

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District 1 spans from La Jolla to Rancho Penasquitos, District 3 includes neighbors northeast of downtown, and District 7 consists of neighborhoods in the College Area.

Gloria was the first council candidate to gain a significant lead over his opponent on Election night.

“I am very excited,’' Gloria said Tuesday night at Election Central in downtown San Diego. “I am very anxious to get to work. We’ve spent 17 months campaigning. Now it’s time to quit talking and start working.’'

Gloria is a community representative for Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego. The District 3 seat is being vacated by Councilwoman Toni Davis.

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Lightner was confident early on that she’d win the District 1 seat, which is being vacated by Council President Scott Peters. Lightner has served on numerous community planning groups, boards and committees, including as president of the La Jolla Town Council.

This was Thalheimer’s second attempt at the District 1 seat. He lost to Peters in 2004. He also has served on community groups, including the Rancho Penasquitos Town Council.

Emerald is set to replace termed-out Councilman Jim Madaffer on the council. Emerald, who was a consumer fraud investigative reported for KGTV Channel 10 for many years before seeking the council seat, said she expected a close race. She also accused Boling of running a negative campaign.

“They’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on negative mailers,’' Emerald said. “What we were hearing on the phones and from door-to-door was that people were tired of that negative campaigning - that they really wanted change. I am hoping that translates into the votes it takes to win.’'

Carl DeMaio, founder of the government watchdog group The Performance Institute, was the only person to win a soon-to-be vacated council seat outright in the June primary election.

DeMaio, who replaces termed-out Councilman Brian Maienschein, will represent San Diego’s District 5, which includes the northeastern part of the city.