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Politics

Lawson-Remer Beats Gaspar In District 3 Supervisor Race

San Diego County District 3 supervisor candidates incumbent Republican Kristin Gaspar and Democrat challenger Terra Lawson-Remer are pictured in these undated candidate photos.
Kristin Gaspar and Terr Lawson-Remer campaigns
San Diego County District 3 supervisor candidates incumbent Republican Kristin Gaspar and Democrat challenger Terra Lawson-Remer are pictured in these undated candidate photos.
Democrat Terra Lawson-Remer upset Republican incumbent Kristin Gaspar.

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Challenger Terra Lawson-Remer bested incumbent Kristin Gaspar in the race for the District 3 seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

Lawson-Remer, a Democrat, has roughly 60% of the votes to 41% for Gaspar, the Republican. Lawson-Remer is a first-time candidate and an economist who worked in the Obama administration.

This was a crucial race because of the five seats on the board it was the only open seat with a Republican going against a Democrat, meaning Lawson-Remer has tipped the balance of power on the board. Of the two supervisors who are not running for re-election this year, one is a Democrat and the other is a Republican.

The pandemic disrupted both campaigns. Right after the two candidates were chosen for the general election, COVID-19 thrust the county health system into the spotlight.

Gaspar has often been at odds with the county’s response. In June, still very early on in the pandemic, Gaspar publicly called on the county to loosen restrictions on backyard gatherings.

“It is really easy to look back at any point during the pandemic response and point to, 'OK in this month we have felt a different way,' but we have learned a lot,” Gaspar said.

Control Of County's Board Of Supervisors Hinges On Third District Race

Lawson-Remer, who is an attorney and college professor at UCSD, is critical of the county’s response for a different reason, believing the county was caught short-handed by not having enough staff to handle the pandemic, even after a Hepatitis A outbreak swept through the county from 2016 to 2018.

“They just didn’t have the resources,” Lawson-Remer said. “There had been an under-investment in staff for so long that they were just not able to keep up with the demand. And they just did an extraordinary job with the limited resources they had, which fundamentally falls on the prior leadership.”

Aside from potentially turning the board of supervisors from red to blue, the District 3 is likely to tip the balance of power on regional planning agency SANDAG, where Gaspar now holds a seat. SANDAG is creating a 30-year plan which concentrates on mass transit and moves away from road widening projects.

The district runs up the coast from Solana Beach to Encinitas and up Interstate 15 from I-8 to Escondido. Once reliably Republican, it now has more registered Democrats. The third district is the best hope for Republicans to hold onto a three-to-two majority on the county Board of Supervisors after a second seat went to Democrats in the primary.