There is no greater feeling of gratitude than to be chosen by the people to serve as their elected representative. Once again, I’m honored and humbled to have earned your trust to be Supervisor for the Fifth District of San Diego County.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to fulfill the vision I have for North County and pleased that our leadership team remains in place to continue doing the people’s business with experience, integrity and accountability.
On the state and national level, the results of the November election are mixed. The hope and change Americans were promised two years ago sent our country in a direction the voters did not like. There has now been a legislative power shift in the House of Representatives. We will see if promises of fiscal restraint and reform are turned into action and not campaign echoes.
As for the State of California, we have a governor from the 70’s in power with a majority of his party in a legislature that for the most part matches his ideas of how to do business. The passage of Proposition 23 that allows the State legislature to pass a budget with a simple majority instead of a two-thirds vote also worries me.
I wish I had more confidence that things in Sacramento were improved by the results of the November election. Unfortunately, making it easier for the legislature to pass budgets has in effect, waved the green flag for free-spenders. Even so, I will do my best to work for the best interests of the people of San Diego County. Here is some of what you can expect in the months and years to come.
Maintain Fiscal Stability
The most important achievement for your Board of Supervisors in recent years is a financially secure county government. Without a solid financial base, it’s impossible to provide even basic services. San Diego County has the highest credit ratings possible, no deferred maintenance and healthy reserves. This recognizes the political will of the Board of Supervisors to maintain fiscal discipline and I pledge to continue the way we do business.
What this means is we can access all financial markets to get the most favorable treatment in paying off the County debt—resulting in enormous savings to the taxpayers and enabling us to better serve the people of San Diego County.
Helping Create Private Jobs
Putting people back to work and fostering a business-friendly atmosphere are at the forefront of our energies. One way we have done that is with the passage of Proposition A, a measure that I brought forward and that was put on the ballot by my fellow Supervisors and me. Prop A was approved by 77-percent of voters in San Diego County. It is now law that all qualified workers will get an equal opportunity to work on public projects.
With unemployment at 10% in the San Diego region and most construction workers not belonging to a union, it is not fair to force someone who wants to work on a taxpayer-funded construction project to become a union member. Proposition A guarantees fair and open competition and allows taxpayer dollars to go further to create jobs.
General Plan Update
The culmination of 12 years of intense work involving the County of San Diego’s General Plan Update (GPU) is now moving toward completion. Briefly stated, the GPU is the blueprint for land use policy in the unincorporated regions of San Diego County in the foreseeable future. By far, the largest portions of unincorporated land are in the north and east parts of our County.
County Staff has spent 12 years touring the county, holding weekend workshops and night meetings and I deeply appreciate all their hard work. I also am grateful for all those who have come to the County Administration Center to express their thoughts on the GPU. Many are land owners who are concerned about protecting their property rights, especially when it comes to the government taking their land. They could not support the GPU plan that was submitted by County staff and neither can I.
Twelve years ago, I promised my constituents that I would not support massive down zoning of their property without their permission. Under the current GPU, that is exactly what is being proposed and I won’t stand for it.
San Diego County agriculture is the 12th largest farm economy in the nation representing more than $5 billion dollars in annual value to the region. We must have balance in land use policies to protect property owners and ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in San Diego County.
I encourage you have your voice heard at our next public meeting about this plan on December 8th at 9:00 A.M. at the Board Chambers located at 1600 Pacific Highway.
Improve Public Safety
Perhaps the top responsibility I have is public safety and one of the most unpredictable threats we face year round is wildfire. We have addressed that threat with consolidating San Diego County’s patchwork of fire fighting agencies to maximize the use of current fire fighting resources and assets. By standardizing training, sharing resources, and bringing State, Federal, and rural agencies under County leadership, response times to emergency calls and brush fires have been improved for more than one million acres of backcountry land. The new partnership with Calfire includes nearly $6 million a year from the county for equipment, staffing and training while still supporting our great volunteer fire fighting departments.
A strong defense against wildfires is the best offense. We will continue to manage vegetation to prevent the start and slow the spread of deadly wildfire while working to provide aerial resources to “boots on the ground.”
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Street gangs are another threat to public safety. I will continue to work with the District Attorney and Sheriff to fight gang violence through court injunctions and law enforcement sweeps.
Perhaps the most sinister threat to public safety is the presence in our neighborhoods of sex offenders. To give our communities every tool available to protect each other, especially our children, we are working to implement a sex offender e-mail alert service for County residents who subscribe to the system. We are also having County Counsel develop a legislative proposal that would give local governments the authority to release the name, photo, address and offense of specific registered sex offenders with the e-mail alert. Current state law prohibits this kind of direct notification regarding a specific offender, even though that information is available on the State Attorney General’s web page.
Reduce Traffic Congestion
When the road-widening project on Highway 76 is completed, there will be a tremendous impact in reducing traffic congestion and increasing the safety of motorists who literally take their lives in their hands while driving on that dangerous stretch of road every day.
To accelerate the project, we are creating the San Luis Rey River Park, a seven-mile linear open space that is larger than Balboa Park. As a Board Member on the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) I will continue to keep this crucial project on schedule and work with the Pala and Pauma tribes to see things through to completion.
Supporting Our Communities
In January, we will dedicate and open a brand new library in Fallbrook. No other local government in California has built or is building libraries the way that the County of San Diego has done for the past years. I’ll continue to champion libraries and encourage people to use our facilities as community centers.
Bolstering Our Way of Life
Having been born and raised in San Diego County, I have lived here for most of my life and just like you; I cherish the many things that make our region so special. I will continue improving the way we live, supporting agriculture and the charm of the back country, working on the reliability of our water supply, and fostering the community spirit and the people who put others first to bind us together.
I saw one example of that bond on election night when several teenage boys from Buckheart Ranch in Escondido came to Election Central to watch the vote count and feel the excitement of democracy in action. The boys are mentored by Chuck and Julie Dilts who run the ranch and its youth development program. Buckheart Ranch is one of the many non-profits we are honored to support through the County’s Neighborhood Reinvestment Program.
The boys were interviewed by a City College TV station and had their photos on the Internet and print media on a night never to be forgotten.
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I look with enthusiasm to continue working with the people of the Fifth District in an open and constructive partnership. I am deeply thankful for your trust and your affirmation of our leadership and vision. The best is still to come.
In this edition of the Word, I’ll also be sharing news of a Veterans Service Office at Palomar College, progress on the new Veterans Cemetery at Miramar and a major renovation at North County Serenity House.
Student Veterans Support Center