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County Supervisor Horn Narrowly Wins Re-Election

Credit: Courtesy photos

Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood, left, is seeking to unseat five-term San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn, right.

Tweets from KPBS News reporters and editors covering the primary election, June 3, 2014.

North County voters were almost evenly divided Tuesday in the county supervisors race that had Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood challenging incumbent Bill Horn, but Horn appeared to have pulled out a victory.

Horn, who has represented the 5th District for 20 years, defeated Wood by 1,378 votes out of 56,562 votes cast. Horn was seeking his sixth and final four-year term.

Both Horn and Wood are Republicans, though supervisors races are nonpartisan.

No county supervisor has been defeated in 20 years.

Wood, true to a personal tradition when he is on the ballot, thanked his supporters at a pizza parlor in Vista, and went home to Oceanside for the night.

Horn was at a party hosted by the San Diego County Lincoln Club at the U.S. Grant Hotel. He said he came to thank his supporters and was not yet ready to concede with many more votes to be counted.

In the past, when he has faced opposition, Horn has been strongest in early returns, with his lead shrinking over the course of the night.

Horn was backed in the campaign by business and development interests, while Wood has attracted support from labor unions and environmental interests.

County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who represents the 4th District, which includes central San Diego, was unopposed and won re-election Tuesday.

County Supervisor Ron Roberts, shown at the U.S. Grant Hotel, was unopposed and re-elected, June 3, 2014.

Political baggage

Both candidates have faced allegations that tarnish their political image.

The latest for Horn is a report by inewsource, a KPBS media partner, that uncovered he used a nonprofit for years to avoid paying taxes on his real estate transactions. He has said he did nothing wrong.

Wood's past includes a mention in a lawsuit alleging sexually inappropriate comments while he was in the Oceanside Police Department.

The district

The 5th District covers a huge area of North County, combining urban and unincorporated areas that have very different interests.

The cities of Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista and San Marcos all lay within the boundaries, and the borders stretch east, beyond undeveloped backcountry to Valley Center and the desert beyond.

The issues

The five county supervisors are responsible for the Sheriff’s Department and the jails, so law enforcement is an issue, plus much of the funding for the fraying social safety net comes from the county’s budget.

But the issue that most sharply divided the two candidates was land use. As the economy improves and the region’s population grows, the big question is: Where can developments happen?

Horn was supported by farmers and large landowners who are angry that the county’s latest land-use zoning plan limits development. That reduces the value of their property. Horn favors multiple amendments that open the door to residential and commercial development in rural communities that have battled it for decades.

Large developers also support Horn’s campaign, so environmentalists have turned to Wood who said he would uphold the county’s growth plan because it took years of local community input to pass.

Finances and special interests

Horn amassed almost $300,000 in campaign contributions, and hundreds of thousands more have been spent by a number of independent political action committees to re-elect him.

Among the developers backing Horn were Accretive Investments and Newland Sierra, LLC , both of which have proposals for large development project.

Competing glossy fliers flooded the mailboxes of likely North County voters, with four independent political action committees supporting Horn and one backing Wood.

Wood's campaign had collected a little more than $30,000 in contributions. A labor union representing county employees has contributed $100,000 to support his candidacy through a PAC by the name of “Citizens against career insider politician Bill Horn.”

Wood was supported by former county Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, a moderate Republican with environmental credentials, and Olga Diaz, a Democrat on the Escondido City Council.

Labor groups were divided in this race, with the San Diego County Deputy Sheriffs' Association supporting Horn, while a county employees union, SEIU Local 221, and the Oceanside Police and Fire departments backed Wood.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 4, 2014 at 7:56 a.m. ― 2 years, 8 months ago

There are over 3 million people in SD county.

Horn received just under 29 thousand votes.

He received a vote from less than 1% of the people in this county.

This is disturbing because Horn and the other county board of supervisors have slush funds they can easily dole out to enough people to ensure the relatively small amount of votes they need to keep getting re-elected for 20+ years is secure.

Keep 29,000 people happy and on the take out of a county of over 3 million, and apparently they will elect anybody, even a corrupt criminal.

Now that Mr. Horn will be entering his TWENTY-FIRST YEAR as a county supervisor, can someone conduct and investigation into his "non-profit" money laundering scheme?

Horn and the other supervisors get away with an astonishing amount of corruption. It's disgusting.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | June 4, 2014 at 1:49 p.m. ― 2 years, 8 months ago


Supervisors are elected by the citizens of each county district, not the entire county.

In the 5th District there are 302,241 registered voters with 28,970 voting for Horn, so 9.5% elected him, not 1%.

But that certainly doesn't excuse the miserable turnout.

The media has conditioned people to ignore elections that don't have hot button issues or juicy scandals. I guess non-profit money laundering isn't very interesting to the average vote by TV joe.

But if there were strippers, drugs, or airport bathroom shenanigans, you bet the media (and thus voters) would turn out in droves.

Ain't democracy grand?

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Avatar for user 'halidog'

halidog | June 4, 2014 at 4:48 p.m. ― 2 years, 8 months ago

Duck - and Cal Defender -- the slant on this article was the usual Marxist/Progressive trash that permeates the Democratically controlled media. Slanted news - and God knows PBS is riding that horse until it drops, Half truths and outright lies are the order of the day. "Non-Profit money laundering scheme".......are you really that stupid? Do you have any idea of what you are talking about - no. You smear when you are told to, like a good Democrat. As someone who has lived in Oceanside for many many years - the Mayor is wholly owned by the public unions, and his actions to support them have been shameful and unlawful.. Moreover - Jim Woods is an idiot, as anyone who has every attended one of his disfunctional Council meetings would know. Something tells me you have not attended those meetings. Sr personnel at the City have fled the stupidity that permeates the City - a revolving door that Jim Woods built, one stupid decison after another. The fact that ANYONE would vote for this idiot tells you how ignorant todays voters are. Thank God for the 10% that cared enough to vote for Horn. Bill Horn is an honorable man who has served this County well. No - he isn't one of the enviro-Nazi's that shut down the cleanest power known in universe (Nuclear) - and yes, he actually understands that Marxism and the State lead to despair, an elevated totalitarian ruling class (see Sacramento & DC), and hundreds of thousands of people and businesses fleeing San Diego and the state. Shame on him for having a brain. I'm sure all this flies in the face of your Marxist conditioning - for God's sake, see if you can actually process some cogent thought. Our country is being destroyed by unthinking fools who celebrate the fantasy of man-made Global Warming, open borders, the Progressive Marxist utopia, and the rule of the State. Try reseraching before you smear those who are your betters.

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Avatar for user 'Osider'

Osider | June 4, 2014 at 5:50 p.m. ― 2 years, 8 months ago

halidog, I for one, am extremely sick of Re-thug-licans like you spewing insults everywhere they go.

Anyone that doesn't agree with your viewpoint is "ignorant" and "progressive trash" and "stupid" and "Enviro-nazis" and "Marxists" and "unthinking fools."

It is you, wearing blinders, who is the fool. As an armchair troll, you are proof that evolution can go in reverse. You should come with a warning label, you FAUX-News-worshipping philistine.

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