Voters in parts of San Diego County will decide two special elections today, one a state Senate race that has attracted nationwide attention and the other for a seat on the Escondido Union High School District board of trustees.
Polls in the 39th state Senate District and Escondido will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Persons uncertain of where to vote or who experience other Election Day problems can contact the voter registrar's office at 565-5800 for assistance.
Ironically, there are religious overtones to both campaigns--in the state Senate race because of a Catholic bishop's intrusion, and in the Escondido school board race because of two major candidates' differing views on creationism and evolution.
In the state Senate contest, Assemblywomen Lucy Killea (D-San Diego) and Carol Bentley (R-El Cajon) are competing for the seat vacated by Republican Larry Stirling when he resigned two months ago to accept a Municipal Court judgeship. A minor third candidate--write-in Tom Connolly, a public defender from El Cajon--also is entered in the race in the sprawling district, which covers most of eastern San Diego County, stretching from Ocean Beach to Imperial County and reaching north to Escondido and Ramona.
The Killea-Bentley campaign, a rare showdown between incumbents in a county where officeholders typically eschew such confrontations, has been in the national spotlight since mid-November, when Bishop Leo T. Maher barred Killea from receiving Communion because of her pro-choice stand on abortion.
The Escondido school board race, meanwhile, was an otherwise bland eight-candidate campaign spiced by two contenders with diametrically opposed viewpoints: a fundamentalist Christian activist and the head of a local atheists' organization.
Indeed, the philosophical end points of the Escondido race for an 11-month term created by a trustee's resignation are marked by the Rev. Billy Falling, the founder of the Christian Voters League, and Stephen Thorne, the director of the San Diego chapter of American Atheists.
The other candidates in the race include Ray Lawrence, a retired high school administrator; the Rev. Larry Coyle, minister at First Christian Church of Escondido; Bill Horn, a Valley Center resident initially appointed to fill the school board vacancy; Bill Tomkins, a retired salesman who circulated petitions to force a special election to fill the opening; Harold Polesetsky, an architect and general contractor, and Terry Cottrell, a real estate property manager.