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Democrat Incumbent Supervisor Dave Roberts Holds Slight Lead As Vote Count Continues

Photo by Nancee Lewis

San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts speaks to supporters at the Westin Gaslamp Hotel, Nov. 8, 2016.

The race for San Diego County Supervisor in the 3rd district remains close. Incumbent Democrat Dave Roberts leads with 51 percent of the vote over his challenger, Republican Kristin Gaspar’s 49 percent.

UPDATE: 7:30 a.m., Nov. 9, 2016:

The race for San Diego County Supervisor in the 3rd district remains close. Incumbent Democrat Dave Roberts leads with 51 percent of the vote over his challenger, Republican Kristin Gaspar’s 49 percent.

Dave Roberts is the only Democrat on the County Board of Supervisors, which administers a $5 billion budget for San Diego. Incumbent supervisors have historically been hard to beat, but Roberts was vulnerable due to management problems in his office last year. He raised less money than his Republican challenger, and was the target of negative TV ads launched by independent PACS hoping to oust him.

“I stayed focused on what my constituents wanted me focused on and that's quality of life,” Roberts said. “They did not want overbuilding in their neighborhoods. They wanted less congestion, more open space, quality parks, quality beaches. “

Gaspar was backed by the Building Industry Association, and other groups hoping for a more sympathetic ear on the board, that has land-use authority in the unincorporated areas.

Gaspar ran on an ethics platform, saying Roberts had betrayed the public trust. But she said Roberts' name recognition is hard to beat.

“No incumbent supervisors has fallen since before I was even born, so we planned on it being a tight race,” Gaspar said.

The third district seat is likely to be a swing seat on the county board in coming decades, as term limits kick in. The other four members have each served for decades, but from now on, county supervisors will only be able to serve two four year terms.

UPDATE: 11:20 p.m., Nov. 8, 2016:

Democrat incumbent Dave Roberts seemed confident as the votes trickled in Tuesday night, telling KPBS his opponents "couldn’t distort my record," while he also touted a list of his achievements in office such as preserving wetlands and expanding mental health services.

With 35 percent of precincts reporting, plus the mail-in ballot counted, Democrat Roberts continued to hold a slight lead with 51.3 percent of votes to 48.7 percent for Republican Kristin Gaspar.

UPDATE: 8 p.m., Nov. 8, 2016:

Democratic incumbent Dave Roberts is leading Republican challenger Kristin Gaspar in early results, with approximately a quarter of the absentee ballot vote counted. Roberts held a slight lead of 51.4 percent compared to Gaspar’s 48.6 percent.

Photo by Christopher Maue

San Diego County supervisor candidate Kristin Gaspar talks to KPBS during election night at Golden Hall in downtown San Diego, Nov. 8, 2016.

Original post:

Three of the five members of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors are running for another term in office this November, but only one of the incumbents faces a serious challenge.

The only Democrat on the board, Dave Roberts was elected to the District 3 seat in 2012 and is fighting to stay for another four-year term. Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Greg Cox are expected to win their seventh and sixth terms, respectively.

Roberts’ opponent is Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar, a Republican who beat Escondido Mayor Sam Abed in the June primary. Roberts won 39 percent of the votes, Gaspar 33 percent and Abed 27 percent.

District 3 covers the coast from Del Mar to Encinitas; stretches east along state Route 52, including Carmel Valley; and includes Interstate 15 from Tierrasanta to Escondido.

There are 113,000 registered Democrats, 111,000 registered Republicans and 98,000 registered as decline to state.

Photo credit: San Diego County

Map of San Diego County Supervisors Districts

Incumbents usually have a substantial fundraising advantage over challengers. But this year, Gaspar raised more money than Roberts. She had raised $478,000 as of Oct. 22, while Roberts had raised $360,000.

At least two PACs — one primarily funded by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Building Industry Association, the other funded by the Lincoln Club — have spent $400,000 and $300,000, respectively, to attack Roberts and support Gaspar.

Who is running?

Incumbent Roberts is a former corporate officer for defense contractor SAIC. He also worked for the U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon and in Europe and played a role in developing TRICARE, the military's health insurance system. He founded, owns and operates his own multi-state real estate management company.

Roberts served two terms on the Solana Beach City Council before being elected to the County Board of Supervisors in 2012 to replace longtime supervisor Pam Slater-Price, who retired.

Roberts lives in Solana Beach with his partner and his six adopted children, ages three through 20.

Challenger Gaspar was raised in San Diego’s North County and graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State.

She is the chief financial officer of her family’s physical therapy business, which has expanded to six locations from Solana Beach to Oceanside. Gaspar served as president of the Encinitas Rotary Club and volunteers for the San Dieguito School District.

Gaspar was elected to the Encinitas City Council in 2010 and elected as the city’s first mayor in 2014.

Gaspar lives with her husband and three children in Encinitas.

Who is supporting whom?

Roberts is endorsed by the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, the Mexican American Business Professional Association, labor unions representing firefighters, Sheriff’s deputies and probation officers.

He is also endorsed by the Democratic Party and Democratic elected officials, including Congressman Scott Peters, and the Democratic members of the San Diego City Council and several North County cities.

Gaspar is endorsed by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Club, Associated Builders and Contractors and the North County Association of Realtors. She is also endorsed by many Republican elected officials around the county, including San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and members of San Diego City Council.

What are the issues?

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has a $5 billion budget that covers the Sheriff’s department, the District Attorney's office and Health and Human Services.

As homelessness increases in the county, the pressure is on to find strategies that work, and county supervisors have the budget to contribute to a solution.

The candidates will have an influential vote on land-use issues in the unincorporated areas of San Diego County. Many major development projects are in the pipeline.

Gaspar accuses Roberts of abusing the public trust because of management issues in his office last year.

Lawsuits generated by members of Roberts’ staff who resigned cost the county more than $300,000 in settlements.

Photo credit: Jorge Contreras

The political make up of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors is expected to change in the next four years, as term limits kick in for the first time, October 2016.

Roberts argued he took action promptly to correct the problems and continued to provide the leadership the district needs. The district attorney declined to file criminal charges in the case.

Until recently, county supervisors were not subject to term limits. But thanks to an initiative passed by voters in 2010, term limits will start in 2018.

As a result, there will be more turnover on the board. Districts 1 and 4 are expected to have Democratic representation when the incumbents are termed out. So District 3 could become the swing seat on the five-member board in the future.

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