Much Ado About Money – County Supervisors on the Primary Ballot

by on May 20, 2016 · 0 comments

in Election, History, Politics, San Diego

SD Co Admin Bldg 2016By Doug Porter

Back in 2010, San Diego became the seventh county in California to impose term limits on its Board of Supervisors. Voters approved of the idea by better than a two to one margin. Unions, which typically oppose term limits, actually funded the effort.

This electoral groundswell happened for a reason, namely the billions in funding flowing through (and overly generous reserges in) county coffers. The ability of just five elected officials to shape the county’s priorities in big and small ways amounted to a ticket to lifetime tenure in part because supervisors also draw their own district lines.

There are two contests for County Supervisor appearing on 2016 primary ballots in San Diego. They only appear on ballots for voters living in the districts involved. (First District Supervisor Greg Cox – who represents Ocean Beach and Point Loma – is unopposed and therefore, won’t be on the ballot)

Supervisors Ron Roberts and Bill Horn are not up for re-election this year.

Incumbent Second District Supervisor Dianne Jacob is facing Archaeologist/Educator Rudy Reyes.

diane jacobJacob is a Republican, though not apparently Republican enough for the County GOP, which coughed up $200,000 for the since-withdrawn candidacy of State Senator Joel Anderson.

The money was transferred just one day before the Supervisors passed a campaign finance limit ordinance restricting Board candidates to just $25,000 in donations from political parties. Due to a loophole in the state’s campaign finance law, Anderson’s allowed to start a 2020 campaign (Jacob will be termed out) with the $200,000 in party money, while anyone opposing him will be bound by the $25,000 limit.

sd supes districtsOutside of the County GOP, just about every establishment organization and politician on the right side of the aisle has endorsed Jacob.

Democrat Rudy Reyes has his party’s endorsement and little else. He’s run for this office before and was profiled in the OB Rag back in 2008. He’s a survivor of the 2003 Cedar wildfire, coming back after being burned over 70% of his body and years of surgery.

quailbrush-rudyreyes-smReyes’ recovery involved 28 surgeries, including a new lasik procedure that brought his vision back. His recovery also included the use of medicinal marijuana, in the form of lotions and salves to heal his damaged skin. He also used a vaporizer in the hospital, which he cited as more effective pain relief than strongest pain drugs routinely prescribed. On March 4th 2004, five months after the fire, he was the last burn victim released from hospital…

…Grateful to the citizens of San Diego County who helped him and other burn survivors, Rudy has decided to use his life to give back. His gift for sincere and articulate speech, have made him an excellent spokesperson for organizations such as the Burn Institute and CHAD/United Way. He served as a mentor for young burn survivors for the Burn Institute, who describe him as “truly an inspiration to those who have met him.”

Four years after the Cedar Fire, Wildcat Canyon Road was again part of the area effected by a massive back-country wildfire. The Witch Creek fire was one of multiple fires that burned the county again. Witnessing many of the same problems in this wildfire, Rudy is determined to take his public service to the next level. Dismayed by a lack of leadership from the County on this issue he has decided to take matters in to his own hands, through a campaign for the County Board of Supervisors.

Making Water Into Wine

daverobertsThe highest profile contest for the Board of Supervisors is in District 3.

Incumbent Democrat Dave Roberts is facing Escondido Mayor Sam Abed and Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar, both Republicans.

As the first Democrat to hold a position on the Board in two decades, Roberts seemed like he never stopped campaigning throughout his first term. As a kiss-the-babies and send-out-more-press-releases politician, he was everywhere, at just about every function that mattered in the past four years.

Then things went bad.

Roberts has drawn serious challengers because of claims made by three former county employees. Their allegations included misuse of county funds, promoting a hostile work environment, an alleged bribe, campaigning on county time, improper use of a county vehicle and retaliation against other District 3 staff members.

The Board of Supervisors ended up paying $310,000 to settle the cases.

From the Times of San Diego:

The three former staff members all filed claims against the county and sought a total of $1.075 million in compensation.

According to county counsel, the cost to defend Roberts through trial in the three cases could exceed $1 million, the board said. “We believe it is unlikely we would prevail on all three claims,” the board said in a joint statement.

From the Escondido Grapevine:

As for Roberts, he’s done his best to campaign as if there were no scandal or costly settlement – talking up his record and pursuing photo ops, often while distributing money from his $2 million community grants fund. During an April 21 candidates’ forum he refused to say who’s paying the $310,000 settlement, telling moderator Logan Jenkins, “ask the county counsel.”

The Union-Tribune has an article posted claiming that all three candidates have embellished their records in this campaign.

Their take on Roberts:

Incumbent Democrat Dave Roberts has flipped an admonishment and demotion from his colleagues on the board into a promotion and a vote of confidence as he weathered a scandal that cost the government $310,000.

Sam the Sham

ABED-LatinoMayorForum-150Escondido Mayor Sam Abed is a rough and tumble politician, endorsed by the County GOP and loathed by those brave enough to call themselves Democrats in the North County. He’s managed to make enemies on both sides of the aisle over the years.

Here’s Escondido Democrat Don Greene, quoted in the SDFP, shortly after Abed announced his candidacy:

That weird shudder you felt on Monday morning was not a change in barometric pressure. In something akin to a “disturbance in the force,” Mayor Sam Abed announced his candidacy for County Supervisor. This is problematic for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that he has demonstrated he is neither qualified nor fit for the position.

Abed holds his record on the Escondido City Council high and proud, for all to see. I have often described his description of the job that he’s done as something from the Orwellian Ministry of Truth. Wrapped in a weird double speak, Abed delivers the litany of his destructive policies as proud accomplishments: Sure we closed your library, but think of the money we saved you on glasses.

From the Escondido Grapevine:

Abed, meanwhile, also has had the squeaky clean image he seeks to portray tarnished by several stumbles. He built a parking lot on land he owns without getting a permit, which would have required him to install a pricey stormwater treatment system. He linked the city’s website to his official campaign website. And he passes out a two-sided business card with “mayor” on one side and “Pacific West Consulting, Real Estate Development, Sam Abed, President,” on the other. The real estate development side also lists as one of its websites.

And here’s the Union-Tribune:

Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, a Republican, has said his leadership steered his city out of a budget deficit into a surplus. But in reality, Escondido, as required by state law, never had a deficit — and he used emergency reserves to balance the budget.

The Teacher, er, Small Businesswoman

gasparEncinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar is the Coastal Republican (Fiscal conservative, moderate on social issues) in the contest, have been endorsed by most of the GOP officeholders in the county.

Back in October, the four Republican members of the San Diego City Council announced their support for Gaspar. The Third District seat, is 65% within the City of San Diego limits.

From the Escondido Grapevine:

Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar represents the new face of the party, a moderate who in her brief tenure as the city’s first elected mayor has shown her ability to work with a fractious council and steer them toward consensus. She’s the sole Republican in a family of Democrats, and both as mayor and as a member of the city council since 2010 has shown her practical Republican colors as an advocate of moderate rhetoric and fiscal restraint.

But her resume might be the most inflated of them all.

From the Union-Tribune, again:

In debates, interviews, and her official ballot statement as she campaigns for county supervisor, Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar repeatedly describes herself as an “educator” who dutifully teaches elementary school students.

“I looked up at the kids’ wall today as I was teaching the third grade civics program and there’s a whole poster about how character counts. It works for our young people, it should work for our adults too in our community,” Gaspar, a Republican, said at an April 26 debate.

Gaspar’s work as an educator is limited to six hours of volunteer service. She doesn’t have state teaching certifications and except for the three hours of training for the volunteer work hasn’t studied pedagogy.

So there you have it. If you live in County District 3, have a good time holding your nose as you cast your ballot.


This is an excerpt from Doug Porter’s column at our associated San Diego Free Press.


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