Del Mar, Solana Beach council members declare candidacy for supervisor seat


By Joe Tash

The contest for the seat of retiring 3rd District County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price is about to become a three-way affair, as two coastal North County city councilmen confirmed this week they plan to run.

Carl Hilliard of Del Mar and Dave Roberts of Solana Beach said they plan to run for the seat of Slater-Price, who is retiring from the Board of Supervisors this year after serving for 20 years in the position. The two will challenge Steve Danon, who announced his own bid for the seat in 2009. So far, no other candidates have come forward, but the official nomination period runs from Feb. 13 through March 9.

Hilliard, 76, is a registered Republican who is serving a one-year rotation as mayor of Del Mar in 2012. He was first elected to the council in 2004 and previously he served in the Navy, worked as a trial lawyer, and ran a telecommunications company.

He acknowledged Danon has a head start, as he has been raising money and gathering endorsements for the past two years. But Hilliard said that a private poll he commissioned last year showed that his background would go over well with voters in the district, which includes Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carmel Valley, La Jolla and other communities.

“I have to get my message to the voters and let them hear about my background and experience and hopes and aspirations for the county and let them choose,” Hilliard said.

Hilliard is in the final year of his second four-year term on the council, and said he will not be running for a third term, regardless of the outcome of the race for the supervisorial seat.

When he joined the Del Mar council, Hilliard said, the city was not in good financial shape, and its revenues were declining. Now, he said, the city has a balanced budget, a Triple A bond rating, has carried out numerous capital projects and increased its revenue.

“We did that because we applied sound business principles to the operation of the city,” Hilliard said. “We didn’t reduce services or increase taxes. We improved efficiencies.”

The county will be in need of such business skills as the state raids its coffers to make up its own budget shortfalls, Hilliard said.

Roberts could not be reached to comment for this story by presstime. But in an email response to an interview request, he wrote, “I do plan to announce soon that I am running for the Third District seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.”

According to a bio posted on the Solana Beach website, Roberts was first elected to the council in 2004, and served as mayor in 2008. He works as an executive with Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and previously as vice president for Science Applications International Corp., and as a staff member for a congressional committee.

The two councilmen will compete for the seat with Danon, who works as chief of staff for 50th District U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray. Previously, Danon worked in public relations and as chief of staff for County Supervisor Ron Roberts.

“I absolutely welcome Carl and Dave into the campaign. I think it’s extremely healthy for our democracy for the voters to have a choice,” said Danon, 46, a registered Republican.

In the most recent campaign disclosure forms available on the county Registrar of Voters website, which covered the period of Jan. 1 through June 30 of last year, Danon reported raising $64,270. Updated disclosure forms are due to be filed by Jan. 31.

Candidates for the supervisorial seat will face off in the June 5 primary election. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, the top two vote-getters will advance to a run-off election on the Nov. 6 ballot.

County government oversees a number of functions, including law enforcement through the Sheriff’s Department, health and human services, parks and recreation, libraries, airports, and land use in the unincorporated areas of the county.

Members of the board of supervisors earn $143,000 per year.