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District 4 Candidate Lori Saldaña Wants To Bring 'Real Change' To Board Of Supervisors

May 16, 2018 1:40 p.m.

District 4 Candidate Lori Saldaña Wants To Bring 'Real Change' To Board Of Supervisors


Lori Saldaña, candidate to represent District 4 on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors

Related Story: District 4 Candidate Lori Saldaña Wants To Bring 'Real Change' To Board Of Supervisors


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

>> There are changes coming for the typically unchanging San Diego County Board of Supervisors. Term limits in districts four and five mean that there will be two new supervisors for those districts for the first time in 20 years. District 4 covers most of the central city of San Diego from local to downtown from Ocean Beach to Encanto. It is currently represented by turned out supervisor Ron Roberts. Former California assemblywoman Lori Saldana is one of five candidates in the district for the race, she is a professor of business information technology for the San Diego community College District. She is a Democrat. Supervisors positions are officially nonpartisan, but right now all five are Republicans. Lori Saldana spoke with producer Michael Lipkin, here is that interview.
>> Let's talk about the reserved funds that the board of supervisors have been setting aside, the board has been criticized for years about keeping about $2 billion in reserve when some say that that money could be used to make a dent in the county's various health, housing, and human services needs. The argument against using those funds that keeps the county on financial ground, what is your position on the use of these reserves?
>> In government, solid financial ground are healthy people who are able to work, generate income for themselves and tax revenues for the county and so, in the opinion of mentee -- many, we find that when people are healthy, housed, and they don't deal with food insecurity, that is a better investment than holding in the reserve. It is a very traditional business model, it also I think reflects frankly the age of the current supervisors. I have seen that in people who have grew and came into the office in the 90s when we were coming out of a very deep recession in San Diego. And the county was in disarray. So, they take great pride in having built up that reserve but I think times have changed, we have extreme poverty income inequality, housing insecurity, food and security, and it is definitely time to use the reserves that are available to invest in people's health, housing, and well-being.
>> You mentioned housing, should the county allowed new developments like the Lilac Hills Ranch Inc. areas of the county?
>> If we build them in tandem with a good transit system that allows people who do need to make that commute to get to and from their places where they are working without having to spend a lot of money on gasoline and cars, and related car costs, and also frankly just time in the cars, so if we build, in those areas it needs to be part of our general plan, and it also needs to be part of a transit network that helps people move around without relying on vehicles and the more vehicle miles traveled, the less our ability to adjust to a climate action plan to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
>> A report released by the nonprofit group rights investigating these suicide attempts in the San Diego County jails, one of their findings is that the county quote needs to step up to provide the resources and accountability necessary to solve what are serious long-term standing problems, what do you think the Board of Supervisors role should be in addressing the suicide, death, and mental illness in the county jails?
>> The supervisors at the policy and the leadership tone on civil rights issues, on crime and safety issues, we provide the funding. To the district attorney's office, to the Sheriff's office, we need to allocate adequate funds to the county law enforcement review board whose responsibility is to investigate these deaths in custody, and we need to make sure they have the tools that they need whether it is resources, additional staff time, whatever the support they need to investigate these deaths in custody, we as supervisors need to allocate that to them. It is embarrassing and shocking that San Diego County has at the most deaths in custody, Los Angeles County with three times our population and the most larger jail population is not dealing with these problems. They also did not deal in LA County with hepatitis academic. They worked proactively to prevent the and many of those hepatitis cases started in our jails here in San Diego County. So, we have these co-occurring health crisis, not only mental health, and a substance abuse, but you wind up having people who actually leave sicker, often addicted to painkillers, they prescribed, they over prescribed opiates to many of our inmates in the County jails, we need to make changes on healthcare whether it is mental health, hepatitis prevention, other things, and the grand jury has recommended some changes, we need to pay more attention to those grand jury recommendations.
>> The current Board of Supervisors passed a moratorium on new marijuana dispensaries and existing marijuana businesses are required to close by 2022. What is your stance on that ordinance and, would you work to either reinforce it or repeal it if you are elected?
>> I would work to repeal the ban, and establish an office of cannabis education, healthcare, and economic investment. We need to have the revenues coming in from legal businesses, cannabis research, looking at it for medical use, and let's treat inmates, not with opiates that are addictive and deadly, but let's look at some of the research that is been using CBD's to deal with anxiety disorders, pain management and other things, it is legal, we need to treat it like any other legal enterprise, repeal the ban, support that business. Work with medical researchers at UCSD, work with businesses in the school here at San Diego State and take advantage of the present revenues that we know they can come away as a result of ending that band.
>> Singh tri-state policies, they found that the county was less safe after other laws have passed, do you agree that the county is less safe?
>> The violent crimes that have increased in San Diego County have been hate crimes, against immigrants. And hate crimes against people of color. People from different faith communities. Domestic violence is increase, rape and sexual assault have increased, that has nothing to do with immigration. What the county did frankly I believe was political theater, it was to bring out some of the worst most reactionary elements in the electorate before this is June 5 primary, and I absolutely would have voted against the proposal, and I would've demanded that we discuss it in open hearing, not in closed session.
>> Earlier this year you called for an independent investigation of Mickey Chris. Due to multiple harassment allegations against him, those have since settled. The union he runs has been given hundred and $50,000 to committee supporting your run. What are you telling voters about that apparent issue and has a investigation taken place?
>> It is up to the union for the call of the independent investigation because the settlements were done in a confidential civil lawsuit as opposed to an open court criminal lawsuit. I and other policymakers can't take any action because everything was agreed to in private. In terms of the amount of money that they are putting into supporting my election, I have been a pro. I am a union member and I'm going to be tentacle here, I think they're putting a lot of money into supporting me because I have been very good. On labor issues and they want me to win.
>> Do you believe his accusers?
>>'s accusers came to me a year ago. I believe they deserve justice. They went through the system, they went through a confidential settlement and I believe they receive the justice that they sought.
>> Mentioned a couple time that you are a progressive and you betray yourself in a lot of your campaign materials as the true progressive Democrat.
>> Do I say true? I think I use consistent.
>> Consistent.
>> I have been a consistent Democrat.
>> You left for a number of years, why did you come back?
>> I wanted the Democratic party to be more responsive to progressives within the party, who are clamoring for someone to make a real change in County culture of the hundred 50 years since the county was established, we have had six women, and one person of color representing San Diego County. I believe it is time for diverse representation, I believe it is time for somebody who has a consistent background in protecting the environment, the climate action plan, the county has proposed twice has been challenged twice by the club once when I was chair number recently again, it has been challenged. I have 100% back on in environmental protection in my lifetime career in the legislature, 100% on other issues and working on gun safety issues. I came back to the Democratic Party, trying to talk some sense into them. It has not quite worked yet but we will see how this election turns out.
>> I was district four Board of Supervisors candidate Lori Saldana, speaking with producer Michael Lipkin.