San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts, a Democrat, appears headed to reelection, holding on to a narrow lead over his Republican challenger Kristin Gaspar.
As of early morning on Nov. 9, Roberts led with 51 percent to Gaspar’s 49 percent, with 100 percent of precincts counted. Countywide, thousands of mail ballots have yet to be counted.
A former Solana Beach councilman and mayor, Roberts won a seat on the board in 2012, becoming the first Democrat to be elected in 20 years.
While he had the advantage of incumbency this time around, he had to battle back against a scandal that rocked his office last year and continued to dog his campaign throughout the primary and general election.
Last year, four women abruptly resigned from Roberts’ office, accusing their boss of having his staff do political work on county time and claiming Roberts had an improper but non-sexual relationship with an employee. Three women filed formal claims that the county eventually settled for $310,000.
Roberts attributed his lead to voters’ satisfaction with his record over the last four years, including his efforts to keep Palomar Health’s Forensic Health Services open and working with his colleagues on the board to preserve more than 5,000 acres of open space in the county.
“I think the voters were completely turned off by the continued negativity (by Gaspar) and appreciated me focusing on the issues they cared about, which is preserving and protecting their quality of life and improving their services.,” Roberts said late on Nov. 8.
During the campaign, Gaspar, mayor of Encinitas, didn’t hesitate to remind voters of the former unrest in the supervisor’s office.
Gaspar said she always expected the race to be a tight one, given the huge challenge of prevailing over an incumbent supervisor.
“The scandals in his office are one of the contributing factors to why I entered the race in the first place,” she said. “It’s important we restore respect to District 3, and it's a reason why you see anyone coming close to beating an incumbent.”
Throughout the campaign, Roberts touted his collaborative skills, working with other supervisors on such issues as mental health and programs for young people in the justice system, as well as grappling with an influx of offenders in the community from state prisons to local jails.
Gaspar, who helps her husband run a physical therapy firm with multiple North County locations, argued her work experience as chief financial officer gives her the business acumen to help county government run more efficiently.
In the June primary, she finished a strong second behind Roberts, with Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, a Republican, coming in third.
But she’s maintained a consistent lead in fundraising, helped along by a special committee formed to support her candidacy and funded by the Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Club and developer and construction interests.
District 3 largely covers incorporated areas, spanning Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, northern San Diego and Escondido.
— Lori Weisberg writes for The San Diego Union-Tribune.