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Two Democrats Vying For County Supervisor Seat That's Been In GOP Hands For Decades

San Diego County board of supervisors candidates Ben Hueso (left) and Nora Vargas (right) in this undated photo
Campaign Photos
San Diego County board of supervisors candidates Ben Hueso (left) and Nora Vargas (right) in this undated photo
Nora Vargas, a vice president at Planned Parenthood, says her experience in health care makes her qualified to be county supervisor. State Sen. Ben Hueso argues his 15 years in elected office show he knows how to get things done.

Change is coming to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, as term limits push out longtime incumbents — including Supervisor Greg Cox, who has represented District 1 for 25 years.

Voters in the district, which includes Otay Mesa, San Ysidro, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, National City, Barrio Logan and Coronado, will replace the moderate Republican with one of two Democrats: state Sen. Ben Hueso or community college board member Nora Vargas.

Two Democrats Vying For County Supervisor Seat That's Been In GOP Hands For Decades
Listen to this story by Andrew Bowen.

Hueso points to his long career in government, including five years on the San Diego City Council and a decade in the state legislature, as evidence that he knows better how to make government work.

“I’m running because I have a strong record of getting things done, of using this system to help improve the lives of the people of San Diego,” Hueso said.

Vargas serves on the board of the Southwestern Community College District and works as a vice president at Planned Parenthood of the Southwest. She said the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear the county, which is responsible for public health and social welfare programs, needs leaders with direct experience in health care.

Video: Two Democrats Vying For County Supervisor Seat That's Been In GOP Hands For Decades

“When you talk about health care, we’re not just talking about medical health care or mental health care,” Vargas said. “We’re also talking about making sure that people have access to food, housing security and transportation — all of the issues that are really the basic needs that our communities have to have in order to be able to have a good quality of life.”

Both candidates have earned a long list of endorsements from elected officials and organizations. Vargas won the coveted endorsement of the San Diego County Democratic Party, which can spend on her behalf by sending mailers to registered Democrats in the district.

Hueso said Vargas lacks the necessary experience in public office.

"The biggest difference between my opponent and I is work ethic," Hueso said. "I have lots to show for my years in public service, where I think my opponent has a hard time explaining what she has actually achieved."

Vargas said she has worked hard for District 1 communities on a wide range of issues in both the private and public sectors, and that Hueso's long career in government has made him beholden to special interest groups that have funded his campaigns.

"When our communities have issues regarding access to homes and rent, I've been with them on the ground because I have been an advocate all my life," Vargas said. "(Sen. Hueso) has become a politician that is out of touch with our communities."