Originally published April 10, 2012 at 11:55 a.m., updated April 11, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.
The top three candidates running to replace San Diego County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price will hold their first election forum today at the Rancho Bernardo County Club.
This year is the first time an open seat on the board is up for election in 20 years, as Slater-Price will retire from the third district at the end of this year.
The race is nonpartisan, but political party is a point of interest since the board has been 100 percent Republican for the past two decades. Of the three top candidates, Steve Danon and Carl Hilliard are Republicans and Dave Roberts is a Democrat.
Slater Price has endorsed Roberts.
The faces on the board have not changed in 20 years, partly because voters pay more attention to their elected city council representatives than to the county supervisors. There are more voters registered as Republicans in the county, but many of them live in the unincorporated areas. The borders of the third district changed this year under redistricting, but it covers mainly incorporated cities, including the northern coastal cities of Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar, plus much of Escondido and San Diego communities up Interstate 15 north of state route 52.
Republican candidate Steve Danon is currently chief of staff for San Diego Congressman Brian Bilbray. He defined himself as the pro business candidate.
"At a time when one in 10 San Diegans is out of work, " Danon said, "it is imperative that we create a healthier business environment for businesses to create jobs in this region. It should not take five to seven years for a business to get their permit. They don't have the time and that's why they are leaving the region."
Referring to the county's notoriously long land-use permitting process, Danon said developers need to get permits in less than 10 years.
Democrat Dave Roberts is currently deputy mayor of Solana Beach. He said the facts show 71 percent of jobs in the region are related to government and that working better with the federal government to maintain those federal military jobs is key.
He said preserving the county's fiscal health is a top priority, but he said he wants to build on 20 years of stable county government and do better by the county's residents.
"We've got to get homeless off the streets," he said, "provide health care for children - and we've got to come up with some sensible land-use and planning decisions."
Republican Carl Hilliard is currently the mayor of Del Mar. He defined himself as the most fiscally conservative of the three. The forum did not include a question about realignment - the state's decision to transfer thousands of prisoners to county jurisdiction. But Hilliard said after the forum that this like a train barreling down the tracks toward San Diego.
When asked their thoughts on a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers, Danon said he would like to see a Joint Powers Authority set up to consider it as a regional issue. He said there is too much talking going on behind closed doors at the moment. Hilliard said he would need to do a through cost benefit analysis before making a decision on a new stadium. Roberts said it is a subject worth considering, but at a time when so many homeless veterans are living on the streets, he would not spend public money on a new football stadium.
All attempts to unseat an incumbent on the County Board of Supervisors have failed in the past two decades, partly due the healthy war chests built up by the five sitting supervisors.
Of the three top candidates, Steve Danon has raised the most. Danon has been running for two years and has raised more than $200,000.
Dave Roberts, has raised almost $175,000. He declared his candidacy earlier this year. Roberts has loaned his own campaign $90,000.
Carl Hilliard, who also declared this spring, has raised almost $50,000. Half of it is a personal loan he made to his campaign.
Two other candidates running for the seat, Bryan Ziegler and Stephen Pate, have not filed any campaign disclosure reports with the County Registrar's office, signifying that they have raised less than $1,000 for their campaigns.
It is widely expected that no one candidate will get more than 50 percent of the vote in June, which means there is likely to be a run-off in November.