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Who Will Challenge S.D. County Supervisors?

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Video published February 19, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: Will any viable candidates challenge Ron Roberts and Bill Horn for their seats on the County Board of Supervisors? We speak to the government editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune about the possible challengers for those offices.

JOANNE FARYON (Host): Not a single member of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors has changed in the past 15 years, and it appears they could have another couple of years together. All five members are white, Republican, and have served at least three consecutive terms. This year supervisors Bill Horn and Ron Roberts are both up for reelection. Joining me now to talk about whether they’ll serve another term uncontested or if this will be a real race is San Diego Union-Tribune government editor, Ricky Young. Thanks Ricky for being here.

RICKY YOUNG (Government Editor, San Diego Union-Tribune): Thanks.

FARYON: So let’s begin. Do we know that both Roberts and Horn actually want to serve another term?

YOUNG: Well, in North County Bill Horn is certainly all in. It’s interesting you ask about Roberts. In December ’08 there was sort of a whisper campaign suggesting that he might step down in mid-term and a sort of favored replacement would be appointed. And that person would be in a good position to run this year. But I think some of that whispering steeled his resolve and Ron is also in the race as well.

FARYON: So let’s begin with Supervisor Horn, he represents District 5. There are five candidates listed on the registrar of voter’s website. Are they viable opponents?

YOUNG: Well not if you look at the money. The campaign reports just came out and Horn by many factors has more money than any of the challengers. Probably the most prominent of them is Steve Gronke, Vista councilman. But there's a guy named Bill Haynor from Rancho Santa Fe who entered the race after the reporting deadline for the campaign finances. He may have some money to throw in there and might in fact be a very serious candidate.

FARYON: So when you talk about money, they’ve got to get their name out there, really. It’s about name recognition.

YOUNG: That’s exactly right. The supervisors are not necessarily in the news a lot. Not as much as say, an entity like the City of San Diego, where there's a lot of dissension that ends up making news. The County is a very unified front. They’ve worked together as a team, they like to say, for all this time. They see that as big advantage, and it does tend to keep them out of the news. And so to get recognized people need to spend some money and get their name out there as well.

FARYON: Now, Ron Roberts represents District 4. San Diego Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña had expressed interest in running in this race. What happened to her?

YOUNG: Well there were three Democratic women who all have been talking about this race. Lori Saldaña as you mentioned, Shelia Jackson from the school board considered to run but dropped out. Then there's been this sort of shadow candidate in the form of San Diego councilwoman Donna Frye, who has rather famously not decided for some time. She had first told us she was going to decide last December – still hasn’t decided if she’ll get in. she has until March 12th to make that decision. And it looks like she's going to take all that time.

FARYON: I actually spoke to someone in her office yesterday and they say that she's getting a lot of support. People are writing letters, there's even a Facebook page in support of Donna Frye isn’t there?

YOUNG: That’s right. Last time I looked it had 500 people. There's also been a little drumbeat in the press. Some of that may be ideological, where they support Donna. Some of that may be they're just bored and they’d like a real race there in that district, challenging Roberts.

FARYON: Now, she terms out on city council so she hasn’t got a job. Why wouldn’t she run?

YOUNG: Well, there's some feeling… I mean, she would be the only Democrat on a five-member board, you know, where the other would all be Republican. Maybe that would be a little uncomfortable. Maybe it’s not her cup of tea. You know, it is a very different dynamic from the city.

FARYON: Is it about raising money, too? We started off talking about money. Is she going to get that kind of support?

YOUNG: The feeling is she's proven in terms of raising money and I don’t think she's concerned about that at all actually. It may be just that she would think a career in community activism – which is kind of where she started – might be more appealing to her.

FARYON: You mentioned, again, Republicans. So all five supervisors are Republican, but they represent some Democratic districts. What could you tell me about Ron Roberts’ district?

YOUNG: Well it is a majority Democratic district, which would seem to make him vulnerable. That’s why it’s interesting that he has drawn no challengers. Now Bill Horn up there in North County, it’s just bedrock Republican district and he's drawn all these challengers. So it’s sort of an interesting dynamic where the challengers are in the race where they would seem to have the least opportunity.

FARYON: There are no term limits for the Board of Supervisors, but there are groups hoping to change that. And what can you tell me about a ballot initiative largely driven by local unions?

YOUNG: On June 8th voters will decide whether to impose a two-term limit on supervisors. That would be two four-year terms. Interestingly, the supervisors who have already served would get to serve two more four-year terms. So it wouldn’t keep them from running again. The dynamic that’s interesting is voters tend to reelect their local representative over and over and over, although they like the idea of term limits. So you’ll have both on the ballot. So you may have a scenario where they approve term limits and yet reelect both Roberts and Horn.

FARYON: Now, the unions haven’t been happy necessarily with the Board of Supervisors. There have been layoffs. Why wouldn’t they just try to find their own candidate to run against one of the supervisors? Why sort of do this end runaround that?

YOUNG: In retrospect, when it’s all said and done they may be kicking themselves for exactly that. In other words, they may decide that it would have been smarter to put up a good candidate against at least Roberts and maybe Horn, rather than spending their time on term limits which wont take effect for many, many years for the sitting supervisors and may not have the impact they want. There's an interesting coalition around that where it’s not just labor pushing for it, but you also have some anti-tax groups that have wanted this in the past. And it’ll be interesting to see how much they work together and who it brings to the polls.

FARYON: We’ve got just a few seconds left, but do you think that voters, people at home, care about this? Do they know what their Board of Supervisors actually do?

YOUNG: Well as I said, it’s a fairly low profile office. But you know, there have been some developments lately that have brought it in the news a little more. And you know they do a lot of important things in terms of social services and this sort of thing. So it’s an important race and hopefully people will tune in.

FARYON: Thank you, Ricky Young.

YOUNG: Thanks.

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