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Escondido Mayor To Challenge Dave Roberts For Supervisor Seat

Photo caption:

Photo by Tarryn Mento

Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, center, announces he'll run for county supervisor, June 8, 2015.

Escondido Mayor Sam Abed announced Monday that he will challenge embattled county Supervisor Dave Roberts in next year's election.

Roberts has been beset by claims that he misused county office funds and mistreated his staff. He has denied the allegations.

From the steps of Escondido City Hall, Republican Abed said the accusations against Roberts helped him decide to run for the seat.

“We will unseat Dave Roberts next June. I can promise you that. I will work hard and restore trust in government in Escondido," he said.

Abed, a native of Lebanon who was elected mayor in 2010 and re-elected four years later, touted his work to shore up the city of Escondido's budget and his business friendly policies.

"I took Escondido as mayor with a $16 million deficit. I turned it to $8 million surplus," he said, while holding up a graphic that he claimed showed the improvements. The image showed the city's total deficit from 2007 to 2010 added up to $15.6 million, and the city's total surplus from 2011 to 2014 added up to $8.2 million.

Abed last month called on Roberts to resign.

At Monday’s announcement, Roberts' spokesman Gary Gartner denied the allegations against Roberts and claimed Abed broke his promise to Escondido residents that he would serve two full terms as mayor.

"During Mr. Abed's tenure as mayor of Escondido, he has brought a polarizing atmosphere to City Hall," through his statements and actions, Gartner said.

Gartner claimed Abed has also failed to develop a large plot of vacant land on the west side of town, which he had touted as a possible location for a Chargers stadium, a home for a minor league baseball team or a business park.

A campaign spokesman for Abed dismissed Gartner's claims.

"The allegations that Dave Roberts and his spokesman have haphazardly lobbed at Mayor Abed are beyond laughable and reek of desperation," political consultant John Franklin said in an email.

If Abed unseats Roberts, he could restore Republican unanimity on the five-member Board of Supervisors, depending on how other races play out.

Roberts is a freshman supervisor representing a district that includes Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas, and extends inland to cover Escondido and parts of San Diego.

Eight people have resigned from Roberts' office since he took office in January 2013. Ex-scheduler Diane Porter recently filed a claim against the county that contends the supervisor made her work on political activities during work hours and spend office money on campaign materials, and created a hostile work environment, particularly for women.

Two other former Roberts staffers also have filed claims against the county, including one on Monday by his former health and human services policy adviser. Claims are precursors to filing a lawsuit against a government entity.

Abed is the first to officially announce his candidacy and claims he's already raised $100,000. But some other Republican names have also been mentioned as possible Roberts opponents, including San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey, Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar and state Assemblyman Brian Maienschein.

Gaspar said she's focused on her leadership in Encinitas but hasn't ruled out a run for supervisor.

"I'm grateful for all the encouragement I have received to run in the County Supervisor race," Gaspar said in an email. "While I haven't made a final decision, and want to see how things evolve over the next several months, I believe my first responsibility is to complete the work we've started here in Encinitas."

Kersey and Maienschein did not respond to requests for comment.

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