Incumbent 3rd District Supervisor Dave Roberts will square off against Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar in November. Escondido Mayor Sam Abed is out.
“I’m happy to be past that milestone and am looking forward to the next months ahead,” Gaspar said.
Roberts finished first, with 38.79 percent of votes cast (53,108), while Gaspar was in second place, with 34.28 percent (46,939), according to the latest tally, released July 1 by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. Escondido Mayor Sam Abed trailed with 26.93 percent of the vote (36,866). Just 5,000 absentee or provisional ballots remain to be counted, according to a notice on the registrar’s website.
The two mayors are republicans; Roberts is the sole democrat on the five-member San Diego County Board of Supervisors, which is officially nonpartisan.
District 3 includes Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, Rancho Bernardo and Solana Beach, as well as a large expanse of northern San Diego, including parts of Carmel Valley, Mira Mesa, Scripps Ranch and Rancho Penasquitos.
Roberts is running for re-election after a first term marred by allegations that he mistreated staffers, misused county resources and engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a staff member. Three former staffers filed formal claims with the county, prompting Roberts’ colleagues on the board to approve a $310,000 settlement.
Roberts has consistently denied the allegations; in April, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said her office would not file criminal charges but conceded, “Supervisor Dave Roberts violated county and civil workplace policies.”
The campaign, the most closely watched one in North County, is seen by observers as something of a referendum on Roberts’ character. Both Gaspar and Abed said they decided to challenge Roberts because of the scandal — and his nonchalant attitude about it. At an April 21 candidates’ forum in Rancho Santa Fe, Abed said he had no intention of running for the seat “until these things came up.” He said Roberts should be “disqualified” from holding public office, maintaining, “Taxpayers wrote a $310,000 check because he could not manage his staff…. Integrity matters in this campaign; honesty matters in this campaign.”
Gaspar also said the allegations against Roberts, and the settlement by the board, prompted her to run for his seat. She said the real cost to taxpayers, including staff time to investigate the charges, is about a half a million dollars, “and the reality is a mistake like that would put me out of business in the private sector.” She faulted Roberts for loaning his campaign $75,000 “when taxpayers are still on the hook for a pretty big bill,” and added, “You have to be accountable for your actions.”
Toward the end of the campaign, the two republican challengers turned on each other with a flurry of negative ads.
Observers say Roberts had hoped Abed would win because the Escondido mayor would be easier to beat in November, even though Abed in the primary had the backing of the county Republican Party.
Abed did not return phone calls or texts. He conceded on June 8 through a notice on his Facebook page that read, “Thanks to our team, volunteers and supporters for helping us run an excellent campaign. The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC and special interests put [in] $600,000 to buy this election [for Gaspar]. This will only help Dave Roberts maintain a critical county seat in November. What a shame! Back to serving the great city of Escondido.”
Since then, he’s posted just two status updates on his Facebook page. On June 15 he noted that “Escondido unanimously passed a balanced budget, the 6th balanced budget without using emergency reserve in 6 consecutive years.”
And on June 25 he posted a picture of himself at the ribbon-cutting of the new 24 Hour Fitness center at Westfield North County in Escondido.
Thomas K. Arnold is a veteran San Diego journalist who throughout the 80s and 90s wrote for the San Diego County Edition of the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Reader and San Diego Magazine. He has won numerous awards from the San Diego Press Club and the San Diego Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Arnold is currently publisher and editorial director of Home Media Magazine, a weekly trade publication serving the $20 billion home entertainment industry. He is a former City of Carlsbad planning commissioner, editorial editor and editorial writer for U-T San Diego, and columnist for U-T San Diego and the North County Times.