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East County Supervisor Candidates Discuss Coronavirus, Housing, Mental Illness

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Two Republicans are vying to replace Dianne Jacob and represent East County on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. Joel Anderson and Steve Vaus discussed the issues on KPBS Midday Edition.

Speaker 1: 00:00 The San Diego County board of supervisors is changing more radically this year than it has in decades. As new term limits take effect. The East County second district seat that has been held by Republican Diane, Jacob for nearly 30 years is now open. And two Republicans are vying for it. Joel Anderson, a former California assemblyman and former state Senator is competing with Steve Voss, the mayor of Poway and the chair of the San Diego association of governments. KPBS is Alison st. John spoke to the candidates about the issues and the race to represent the second district. Here's that interview

Speaker 2: 00:37 The San Diego County board of supervisors is changing more radically this year than it has in decades as new term limits kick in this year, the East County second district seat that has been held by Republican Diane Jacob for nearly 30 years is now open. And two Republicans are vying for it. Joel Anderson, a former California assemblyman and former state Senator is competing with Steve Voss, the mayor of power and the chair of the San Diego association of governments. So gentlemen, welcome to you both. Thank you. Thank you first. I'd like to give you the opportunity to help us understand the differences between you as Republicans. So Senator Anderson, let's start with the president, president Trump, as a, as a divisive figure. What are the things that you admire most about him?

Speaker 3: 01:22 East County needs jobs in career paths? President Trump has a economic plan that I support. I support president Trump.

Speaker 2: 01:31 Thank you very much, Mary Voss. What about you? I know that, uh, Joel Anderson has in the past called you a never Trumper is that accurate

Speaker 3: 01:38 545 days ago when the whole bottom Poway was attacked and Lori Kay was killed by a hateful gunman hours later, I got a phone call from the president. He offered the full support of the federal government to the president, stood with us during those difficult and dark days. I will never forget that. And yes, I will support the president on November 3rd.

Speaker 2: 02:00 Now, many of us, you are actually not endorsed by the Republican party. Does, does that bother you? You know, which endorsements do you particularly value?

Speaker 3: 02:08 I'm endorsed by folks all throughout East County district to the ultimate being Diane Jacob, the 28 year incumbent. Who's done incredible things for the district. The majority of mayors in the district, majority of council members, folks on waterboards fire boards, boards of education, Cal fire firefighters, FCIU United domestic workers, deputy Sheriff's association, and every law enforcement group in the district also by laborers, local 89, Latino American political association, Asian Americans for equality, black contractors association. They support me because they know my record. They want their elected representatives to demonstrate integrity and respect and fair representation. That's what I've always done and always will do.

Speaker 2: 02:52 Okay. Now, Senator Anderson, you are endorsed by the Republican party. Why, why do you think they picked you? What values do you represent better than opponent?

Speaker 4: 03:00 Well, uh, I'm pretty straightforward. My answers are succinct. I don't speak in platitudes. You get yes and no answers out of me. When you ask me a question and I think that that's really important. I did over 453 bills with Democrats while I was served in legislature. If you added all the Republicans together collectively, I did more bills than all of them. And I did that because people knew that when I gave my word immense something, I didn't tell people what they want to hear in my opinion, change with the audience that I spoke to. So when you're looking to build bridges, you have to be honest and you have to understand the other person's viewpoint and look for that mutual ground.

Speaker 2: 03:43 Okay. Now whoever wins this seat, the County board of supervisors will still be dealing with the Corona virus one way or another Sanders Anderson. Do you support the state's four tier system for reopening businesses?

Speaker 4: 03:57 I have a lot of frustrations with it. Uh, look, I support science and three of, uh, three of my friends have passed away from Cronin virus. I understand how serious it is, but I also understand that we need to get to herd immunity. And if the goal posts keep changing and we're saying stuff like big box stores can be open and yet mom and pop shops can't be open. That is very difficult for people to track. They want to have consistency. They want to know what the parameters are and they don't want people to keep changing.

Speaker 2: 04:31 Um, mayor Voss, what's your take on, on the four tier system for opening businesses that is determining how many businesses can open, how far

Speaker 3: 04:39 This is a dangerous virus? Well, over 200,000 dead in the United States, close to 800, I think in the County that so we've got to pay attention, but small businesses are being crushed. And I struggle with the fact that this has being treated as a one size fits all pandemic it's as though the state is trying to do brain surgery with a chain slot, when really what's needed is a steady hand with a scalpel. I'd like to see us have more local control. Uh, the impacts in Barrio, Logan and Barrett junction, uh, are very different. And I would much prefer that we're in a position to be able to deal with those on a local level.

Speaker 2: 05:22 Talk a bit about housing and development, because it's fair to say the region is desperate for more housing, but you know, climate change and wildfires are increasingly threatening homes built in that rural urban interface that is included in your district mayor Vos, where do you support building new development?

Speaker 3: 05:38 W with regard to the, you know, areas, the higher zones, roughly 80% of the unincorporated area is in a high fire prone zone. So a blanket denial of housing permits in such areas would be a de facto moratorium. And that would impact large scale project and single homes that would impact affordable housing. Nobody wants that. What we really need is balanced areas with limited infrastructure in the backpack country may not be safe to put homes, but areas closer to urban centers, villages, or quarters like the 15 may be more suitable. We may need to take another look at our general plan. There have been significant changes from Sacramento, uh, in recent years. And we need to have a fresh look at where development is best and safe.

Speaker 2: 06:25 Senator Anderson, would you vote for new housing developments in the unincorporated areas of your district?

Speaker 4: 06:30 I wouldn't rule it out. I'd want to see the data I live in one of those areas. Alpine, three weeks ago, there was a fire, uh, within a mile of my house. We lost power for 12 hours. So I understand firsthand, but I also understand that none of my neighbors nor I started that fire and that fire would've occurred, whether we were there or not. And if we weren't there, fire trucks wouldn't have responded as quickly because nobody would have notified them because they wouldn't have known where the fire is. So people who are living out there are really Canary in the coal mine protecting the city because we saw in the witch Creek and the Cedar fire, the fires almost push out to the ocean. It got deep into the city and, uh, had somebody caught that fire sooner. We could have nipped it in the bud.

Speaker 2: 07:18 Okay. Well, speaking of wildfires, obviously climate change is a big issue. So I would like you to both reflect on where you stand on the government's role in preparing for climate change, you know, should the county's climate action plan be modified. And if so, how

Speaker 4: 07:31 County doesn't have a climate action plan, it absolutely needs to have it. You can't say that, that you take climate change. Seriously. It never proposed or passed when like Poway, you have to, you have to do it. It's in our community's best interest to have a climate action plan. Now there's other communities, other cities in the region that have had a success passing one here in San Diego, we've made three attempts. We've been tied up in the courts. It's time to stop spending money, defending bad policy and start looking to the future of what we can pass and how we can make it work. Once you have a climate action plan, any new project will save money in time passing all the environmental studies. So it's in our best interest to move forward.

Speaker 2: 08:15 Okay. So mayor Vos, indeed. The county's plan has been tied up in the courts. What do you think is the way forward?

Speaker 3: 08:22 Well, first of all, yes, climate change is absolutely brilliant. If you have any doubt and look at how the military is planning, as far as the county's climate action plan, we need to get everybody at the table set egos aside. It's critical. We find a path to balance climate protections with the need for new housing, because right now we have a defacto moratorium on building in the unincorporated area. I think we can get it done. The MSCP process, multiple species conservation program brought together the building industry, wildlife agencies, environmental groups, many others in creating a meaningful environmental protections and allowed streamlining and the permit process and allowing the County, the sign off for all parties. That's the example we should look towards.

Speaker 2: 09:07 Yeah. Thank you. So now recently, the counties, uh, budgeted millions, more dollars to address mental health and homelessness. What is the best thing the county's doing at the moment to address mental health and what future initiatives would you support mayor Vos?

Speaker 3: 09:22 Well, my own sister was diagnosed severe schizophrenia in her late teens. She lived a rough and tumble life on the streets at times they were mental illness issues. Finally, out of the shadows and getting the spotlight and funding. It deserves hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on behavioral health, including mental health and addiction treatment services for too long law enforcement and firefighters and paramedics have been carrying the burden of treat people during mental health crises. And that always leads to a revolving door at emergency rooms. We're finally moving towards a better way with crisis stabilization or someone who isn't stable, but doesn't belong in a jail or hospital bed can be cared for. We also need long-term care coordination for those folks. We're getting there. I appreciate supervisor Fletcher's leadership on this. We spoke a month or so ago about next steps and I look forward to working with them just weeks ago. I visited with the staff at Alvarado hospital were anxious to bring a crisis stabilization unit online. There's no doubt it's needed that all the safer for those in desperate need of effective treatment for our folks on the front lines, dealing with the human impact of mental illness. I won't rest until we can provide the resources and programs and facilities they need.

Speaker 2: 10:38 Okay. And Senator Anderson, do you have any, uh, ideas or initiatives that you would support in the future for the County to do about those suffering from mental health issues?

Speaker 3: 10:47 I have a long track record in the legislature supporting mental health and funding, mental health, Jim bell. And I joined author to bill to bring money to in a pilot program to three counties. And it was $200 million to help with mental health. Look, I'm grateful for what Nathan's done on mental health. I think he's a hundred percent, right. We have a hundred beds dedicated to mental health, but 3.5 million people in the County. When, uh, when we send out Sheriff's team on 51 fifties, which is when someone's having a mental break, we need to have per teams. We need to have psychologists out there with them, uh, not in lieu of them, but with them. And right now we want to have three teams. We need many more of those teams. We could have much better outcomes if we worked together and put the emphasis on treating these folks and getting them back to a stable position and stable life.

Speaker 2: 11:40 Okay. Thank you. So finally, I just wanted to ask you, um, to wrap this up, you know, are there policy issues where you feel like you openly disagree and the difference between you is very marked or would say that it's more a question of, of who you are and your backgrounds, Senator Anderson. Can you start

Speaker 4: 11:59 That one? I've been outspoken. I've spoken against my party. I've spoken with my party. I have been an independent leader in Sacramento. Darrell Steinberg recognized me as my own caucus for two weeks. Yes, it was a little bit tongue in cheek, but the fact of the matter is I was named, uh, the third, most independent, uh, legislator in Sacramento. I want to fix things. I want to move the ball and I'm tired of politicians who just make excuses, but never really do anything. How can you say you care about homelessness when Polly doesn't have a homeless shelter? How can you say that you care about the environment when you don't have a climate action plan in your own city? That's a lack of leadership. That's not about leadership. That's about followship. And so I wrote my sleeves and I work hard. Okay.

Speaker 2: 12:47 Thank you. So mayor Voss, let's talk about leadership. What, what would you say is the difference between yourself and your opponent here?

Speaker 4: 12:55 I think my personality allows me to work with everyone. I'm proud to have been elected unanimously, the chair of the San Diego association of governments, board directors, and majority of which is democratic. They elected me because they trust me and they enjoy working with me. And that's reflected in all of my endorsements for County board of supervisors. I think it comes down to temperament track, record and trust.

Speaker 2: 13:22 Gentlemen, I'd like to thank both of you very much for taking the time to talk with us. Uh, we've been speaking with former California, assemblyman and state Senator Joel Anderson, Senator Anderson. Thank you.

Speaker 4: 13:33 Thanks for having us on, appreciate it.

Speaker 2: 13:35 And mayor of power and chair of the San Diego association of governments, Steve Voss. Thank

Speaker 4: 13:40 You so much. That was

Speaker 2: 13:42 San Diego County board of supervisor district two candidates, Poway mayor, Steve Voss and former state Senator Joel Anderson. They were speaking with Alison st. John.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.