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Desmond, Gomez Compete For San Diego District 5 Supervisors Seat

San Diego County District 5 candidates Michelle Gomez and Jim Desmond are sho...

Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: San Diego County District 5 candidates Michelle Gomez and Jim Desmond are shown in this undated photo.

Jim Desmond, mayor of San Marcos, is running against Michelle Gomez, a community leader and legislative analyst for the San Diego County Supervisor District 5 seat that has been held by Bill Horn for 24 years.

Desmond says his 12 years of mayoral experience make him a good fit for the board.

"I've got the expertise to hit the ground sprinting… The relationships that I got countywide and the experience I got county wide serving on many different commissions I think gives me the advantage in this race," he said.

Desmond has been a member of the San Diego Association Of Governments, SANDAG, board for almost ten years and serves on the San Diego Regional County Airport board.

His opponent Michelle Gomez is a lifelong resident of southern California but has never been elected to an office. She gave up her job as a legislative analyst this summer after finishing second in the primaries, behind Desmond.

"I think it's time to have somebody in county government who is looking out for working families. Too many of us are getting priced out of San Diego and it's critically important that we have someone who represents our values," Gomez said.

Gomez has worked as a San Diego county commissioner on the status of women and girls, is a member of the Oceanside housing commission and has volunteered in several organizations serving the military community.

While the two agree the top issues in North County will continue to be the lack of affordable housing and traffic congestion, they have opposing views on tackling that congestion. Desmond believes adding more managed and HOV lanes, utilizing autonomous vehicles and fixing the roads is the solution. Gomez thinks people want more access to mass transit.

"We have a whole group of young people that aren't getting drivers licenses, who don't want to drive, who would do anything they could for mass transportation...We have a Coaster and a Sprinter, lets put two sets of tracks, lets have consistent service," Gomez said.

The candidates also differ on their views on cannabis dispensaries. Gomez wants them in the county. Desmond does not.

"I wish the federal government would go ahead and acknowledge the medical potential I guess of marijuana and then you get a real doctor to prescribe it to you," Desmond said.

Gomez also thinks that the county should tap into the reserve budget to expand social services.

"Why are we collecting taxes on an account that is sitting and collecting dust, when we have people dying on our watch from hepatitis A, something that we have a vaccination for, that never should have occurred? Why are we having a homeless crisis that we’re not addressing when we have the means and the money to address these concerns?" Gomez said.

Desmond disagrees and believes the reserve budgets should be left alone.

"We really only have about 30 days of reserves. I think that’s the floor and that’s where we should stay and keep the reserves and not spend those down on programs. We can re-prioritize what we have to deal with the issues of the day and I think that’s really where we need to focus on re-prioritizing the current dollars to be most effective right now for what we’re dealing with and leave the reserves where they are," he said.

The District 5 County Board of Supervisors seat is up for grabs for the first time in more than two decades.

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