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

 October 19, 2020 at 10:22 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Two Democrats are running for supervisor in San Diego's district won that district includes Karnataka national city and Chula Vista, as well as parts of downtown San Diego Barrio, Logan point Loma and Sherman Heights. District one has been represented by Republican Greg Cox for 25 years, but term limits and changing demographics mean either Ben Weisel or Nora Vargas will become the second Democrat on the San Diego County board of supervisors. Joining me is KPBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Andrew. Welcome. Thank you, Maureen. Tell us more about the background of these two candidates. I think many people in San Diego are already familiar with the name Ben weso Speaker 2: 00:45 That's right. Why? So it goes back quite a while in South Bay politics in particular, he was elected to the San Diego city council district eight, which includes, uh, most of the South Bay communities in the city of San Diego in 2006. Uh, it was a special election. Uh, he was reelected to a full term later that year, uh, at one point or for two years, rather, he served as city council president from 2008 to 2010. Um, also in his, during his time on the city council, he spent two years on the California coastal commission, which oversees development in the state's coastal zones. And then in 2010, he made the leap up to Sacramento. He was elected to the state assembly a few years later in 2013, he made the leap one step above to the Senate, also in a special election. And he's been in the Senate since then. Speaker 2: 01:33 I mean, he really points to that long tenure in elected office has evidence that he's got experience in policy making. He knows how to deliver for his constituents. And, uh, his critics used that, uh, against him, uh, his experience. They say he spent too much time in Sacramento. He's kind of become out of touch with his constituents and it's time for him to move on from politics. Here's a bit of what he told me in our interview. I have not only worked hard to represent my constituents, but to actually get things done. And I'm running because I have a strong record of getting things done. I'm using this system to help improve the lives of the people of San Diego. Speaker 1: 02:13 Now what's the background of candidate Nora Vargas. Speaker 2: 02:17 She has worked as the vice president of community and government relations for planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest. Uh, for, as she's been with that organization for almost 11 years, uh, counting time with some other planned Parenthood affiliate, she says she's been with the organization as a whole for about 20 years. Uh, and she says that that experience in delivering healthcare and advocating for healthcare, um, helps her understand that whole system from the inside and, um, making sure, you know, people have access to healthcare and they know the resources that are available to them through outreach and, and developing relationships with communities. Um, and she says, particularly during the pandemic, um, the County needs someone with that type of experience, particularly when you consider that this district, the South Bay and the Latino community as a whole has been disproportionately impacted by the virus. She's also served on the governing board of Southwestern community college. She's been in that role for more than seven years. And she says, that's exposed her to some of the other problems that the County has a role in addressing, for example, the housing needs of young adults, uh, the transportation needs that needs of food and healthcare. And this is, uh, some of what she told me about that in our interview. Speaker 3: 03:34 When you talk about healthcare, we're not just talking about medical healthcare or mental healthcare, right? We're also talking about making sure that people have access to food, housing, security, and transportation, all of the issues that really are the basic needs that our communities, uh, uh, have to have in order to be able to have a good quality of life. Do we know who's leading in the district? We're so Vargas, Speaker 2: 03:56 We, well, we, no way so came in first in the primary by a comfortable margin. We, I haven't seen any public polling in this race. Uh, it's not certainly the most high profile race in the County at this time. Although I think it's probably fair to say it's pretty competitive there. Um, not miles apart of our guests in way. So when it comes to fundraising, Vargas had a fairly decent lead as of about a month ago. Um, she's also been spending more, uh, which led to waste. So actually having more cash on hand as of, um, the last reporting period, which was, um, the end of September, um, he's also had some previous campaigns, so he's got some cash in the bank, uh, in order, you know, from those previous, uh, times that he's run for office. And what about endorsements? Uh, they both have racked up a pretty respectable list of endorsements from elected officials way. Speaker 2: 04:47 So is supported by, uh, Congressman Juan Vargas whose district overlaps with, uh, this, uh, first district in the County. Um, his colleague in the Senate state Senate president pro tem, Tony Atkins, uh, assembly member, Todd Gloria, who's currently running for mayor Vargas is supported also by a couple of members of Congress, Susan Davis, and Mike Levin. Uh, she is supported by San Diego city council, president Georgette Gomez, also assembly member Loraina Gonzalez who holds quite a bit of sway in this district. Um, Vargas also importantly, when the district of the San Diego County democratic party, and that holds both symbolic significance because it kind of shows that she's got the backing of the institutional, um, you know, the institution of the party, but also in terms of spending the County, uh, democratic party can promote her, uh, candidacy advocate for her, um, when speaking directly or communicating directly with registered Democrats. And so that can free up some of Vargas's own campaign cash for focusing on other areas or other voters. Speaker 3: 05:47 Andrew, thanks for that overview. I've been speaking with KPBS, Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Speaker 2: 05:52 Andrew. Thank you. You're welcome, Maureen.

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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.
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