Bill Horn knows San Diego, especially North San Diego County. And the people know and respect him. This was where he was born, this was where he went to school, and now his public life is dedicated to serving the County of San Diego.
Unlike many elected officials, Bill didn’t want to get into politics. As a North County businessman and avocado and citrus rancher, Bill was appalled at local government’s fiscal irresponsibility and refusal to defend individual property rights and protect young people.
In 1992, displeased with the Escondido Union High School District Board, he threw his rancher’s hat into the political ring and was elected to the Board. When he found County government unresponsive to constituent needs, he ran for County Supervisor and was elected in 1995 to represent the Fifth District (North County), an area that spans nearly 1,800 square miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Imperial County.
When Bill took office, the County of San Diego was on the verge of bankruptcy. In 1997, as Board Chairman, Bill was the motivating force in selling the costly County trash system for $184 million and keeping the county from bankruptcy. That money was re-invested and will bring the County $30 million a year until 2021. Today the County has earned a national reputation as one of the best managed and fiscally secure Counties in America.
Bill was elected to a sixth term in 2014 and five times has been named Chairman.
Reduce Traffic Congestion
Bill not only shares the frustrations of traffic congestion with fellow motorists in North County, he is finding ways to unlock the gridlock. His efforts to widen Valley Center Road resulted in the opening of Phase 1, a new four-lane section of road. Right now, Mission Road in Fallbrook is being widened and he has speeded up his plan to create an eight-mile park and widen Highway 76 along the San Luis Rey River from Mission Road to Interstate 15.
As the County representative on the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), Bill is working to make sure promises made in the TransNet Sales Tax extension are kept. After years of presenting our case to SANDAG, its Board has agreed that the unincorporated portion of San Diego County (mostly in Districts 5 and 2) needs to always have a permanent vote on the SANDAG Board. Right now State Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) is carrying legislation for us in Sacramento to make that happen. This is a great example of Bill’s ability to create bi-partisan cooperation and consensus building.
Protect the Lives of Citizens
Bill is committed to protecting all citizens, especially our elderly and youth. He has the will and vision to work with cities and unincorporated communities in the Fifth District to protect people and improve their well-being.
Bill created the North County Gang Task Force that reduced gang activity in Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos and Fallbrook and brought crime down by 52%. He established innovative programs to deal with juvenile crime by finding money to establish four after-school teen centers. Bill also created the Child Assessment Network – North (CANN), a pilot program hailed for its success in caring for abused, abandoned, and neglected young people in North County. A stunning achievement is a dramatic decrease in the number of children admitted to the Polinsky Children’s Center in Kearny Mesa.
Bill also expanded the Pyschiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) in North County to handle emergency calls when children are involved.
Bill’s personal focus is to make sure every citizen of San Diego County is prepared for our next disaster, whether it is natural or man-made. To that end, Bill hosted a disaster preparedness conference at the County Administration Center in March 2006 involving the County Office of Emergency Services, the Red Cross, Chambers of Commerce and representatives from the cities and public.
In 2002, Bill’s dream for new facilities for the Sheriff’s Department in Valley Center was realized when a new substation opened. And in 2004, he worked to base a fire-fighting rescue helicopter in Fallbrook to boost the County’s fire protection resources. With the help of the Viejas, Sycuan, and Barona Tribes, we now own two helicopters that have helped the California Department of Forestry keep 95% of fires to less than 10 acres.
Bill has also directed more than $1 million from the County’s Neighborhood Reinvestment Fund to volunteer fire departments for equipment and supplies.
Secure our Borders
Securing our border with Mexico is part of Bill’s commitment to all of San Diego County. He is leading the County’s effort to work with the Department of Homeland Security to get them the land they need to complete the triple border fence and continues to lobby in Washington for reimbursement to the county of providing law enforcement and criminal justice services to criminal illegal immigrants and emergency medical care to any illegal immigrant.
Bill has also led Statewide and national efforts to require voter identification at the polls.
Bill was voted legislator of the year by the California Narcotic’s Association in 1999.
Improve the Quality of Life
Bill has taken the lead on the County’s General Plan Update and has urged a return to common sense when it comes to responsible management of public lands and forests and fire prevention.
No other local government in California has built or is building more libraries the way the County of San Diego has done for the past twelve years. Bill is proud to have helped facilitate bringing libraries to Valley Center, San Marcos, Vista, 4-S Ranch, Borrego Springs and early next year a new library for Fallbrook. And thanks to Bill, computers in the County’s 32 libraries have filters to stop pornography.
Because of his commitment to honor and protect life, the Life Resource Network, an organization dedicated to the sanctity of life, honored Chairman Horn with the 2001 Legislator of the Year.
In 2003, Supervisor Horn was honored by the San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women for his support of women’s issues and concerns.
Support Business, Agriculture and our Military
Bill understands how to keep the economic engine of North County running on all cylinders, including strong support for agriculture which is the County’s fifth most important economic contributor. Bill has hosted conferences on finding ways to bring affordable housing to more people, especially young families. And as a former decorated, combat Marine, Bill knows we must support those in arms now, and provide for the well-being of our veterans.
Bill has always known the importance and supported the faith-based movement. He was at the forefront in matching faith-based groups with government agencies in San Diego County long before faith-based initiatives were supported in Washington, D.C. In 2004, Bill was named to the Faith Hall of Fame and was the first recipient of the President’s Award by the Faith-Based Community Development Corporation
Bill’s Life in Review
Bill was born in downtown San Diego and attended Mission Bay High School and San Diego State University. He was a surfer, baseball player, and a Boy Scout (Troop 524). While in college, Bill reported for the Business Extension Bureau.
Bill Horn, United States Marine
(Portions of this account are excerpts from official Marine Corps Records)
Bill graduated from San Diego State in 1966. America was at war and Bill enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and was sent to the jungles of South Vietnam. There, he led his men as an Executive Officer and Commanding Officer and was recognized for his leadership skills and extraordinary heroism.
His battlefield experiences included command of Battery “L” where he and his Marines delivered timely and accurate artillery. For three weeks in February 1969, Bill and the battery he commanded were under near-constant siege by the North Vietnamese Army in a remote area just south of the demilitarized zone known as the Rockpile. His personal courage and devotion to duty were evidenced by his actions on February 19, 1969, when a convoy was ambushed on Route 9. When the attack commenced he was several miles away, but immediately ordered his radio vehicle forward to the sight of the ambush where he maneuvered to a position to observe the enemy mortar position. While receiving small arms fire from enemy riflemen, he adjusted Battery "L" onto the enemy position and silenced it.
Although removed from close maintenance support, Lieutenant Horn, through his resourcefulness and initiative, maintained the entire firing battery in an exceptional state of combat readiness. Shrapnel wounds earned him the Purple Heart, and his leadership under fire earned him the Bronze Star. For this action he was also awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star.
From May 25 until June 28, 1969, Lieutenant Horn was assigned as the Battalion S-2 Officer. June 21 and 22, Dong Ha Combat Base received incoming rockets. Lieutenant Horn immediately conducted crater analysis and analyzed the rocket firing position so that effective counter mortar fire could be delivered. Lieutenant Horn's professionalism, strong devotion to duty and outstanding application throughout reflects great credit upon himself, the Marine Corps and United States Naval Service.
Captain Horn’s military career saw him receive the following decorations: the Bronze Star Medal with Combat V, the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Naval Unit Citation, the Meritorious Unit Citation, the National Defense Medal, the Vietnamese Campaign Medal with four stars, the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Gold and Silver Star, the Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation, and the Vietnam Service Medal.
Returning from Vietnam, Bill went on to sponsor more than twenty Vietnamese refugee families. He provided housing, counseling, and job and education incentives for them to become successful in their chosen professions. Two have become medical doctors and all are successful professionals.
In the mid-1980’s, Bill spent time in Israel serving as an agricultural and finance advisor to a kibbutz. He returned home and served as a Board member of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, a member of the 76th Assembly District Education Committee, President of the Valley Center Rotary Club, a Paul Harris Rotary Fellow, and youth soccer coach.
Bill serves on more than a dozen committees in San Diego County, providing leadership in areas that include housing, health, land use, water conservation and quality, public safety, disaster preparedness, economic development, education, and transportation.
Bill is a resident of Valley Center where he lives with his wife, Kathy. Their three grown children remember fondly sharing their father’s love of skiing, model trains, and restoring antique automobiles.