Candidates for District 3 of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors participated in a forum Thursday in Rancho Santa Fe. From left are Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, incumbent Dave Roberts and Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Candidates trade barbs at supervisor forum

RANCHO SANTA FE — In a spirited and at times heated forum Thursday, candidates for District 3 of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors engaged in attacks along with highlighting their own achievements at Morgan Run Club & Resort.

Perhaps the biggest question, though, was whether Democrat incumbent Dave Roberts would comment on the recent decision of the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office to not file criminal charges stemming from a 2015 scandal and lawsuit involving three former employees.

The former employees accused Roberts of, among other things, misusing county resources, creating a hostile work environment, having an unprofessional relationship, although not sexual, with a staffer, campaigning on county time and bribery.

Roberts defiantly did not comment as to whom was on the hook for the $310,000 settlement, while Escondido Mayor Sam Abed and Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar, both Republicans, each jumped on the first-term supervisor’s actions.

Roberts said personnel matters are confidential, but when pressed about the settlement, he said to ask the county council.

“My district knows me well,” he said. “The Board of Supervisors made a decision (the settlement) that I strongly disagree with. Throughout all this, I have and will continue to provide leadership. This election is going to be about where the candidates stand on the issues. We’ve moved forward.”

Roberts was steadfast in his defense and reiterated he hired the “wrong people” and continues to disagree with the county’s decision.

He questioned critics of his ethics, saying he has since been appointed numerous leadership roles within the board’s range, including the President of California State Association of Supervisors out of 276 candidates.

“The DA put out a statement and the statement speaks for itself,” Roberts said. “I took immediate responsibility and I took immediate action. I now have a team that is working with me working each and every day to solve the issues that the constituents want us to work (on).”

Abed admitted the scandal was the reason for him joining the race, while Gaspar said it was a factor for her as well.

On numerous occasions, Abed has railed against Roberts for the scandal and Thursday was no different. He said Roberts’ actions have broken the public’s trust and shows a lack of integrity.

“I am the first one who called for Supervisor Roberts’ resignation because it’s not right to lose the public trust,” Abed said. “The taxpayers wrote a $310,000 check because he could not manage his staff. Integrity matters in this campaign. Supervisor Roberts is disqualified to be supervisor. It’s corruption. You don’t have to go to jail to be disqualified as supervisor.”

Gaspar, meanwhile, said the $310,000 payout is probably closer to $500,000 when adding the time and money paid to county staff during the investigation.

She related it to her business, which she said would force her to close her doors.

“It certainly represents poor management of the workplace no matter how it came to be,” Gaspar said. “It’s tough when you don’t have elected officials accounted for in that way. That’s a half-million dollars not going somewhere else.”

However, Abed was later challenged about issues stemming from a parking lot he owns in Escondido and avoiding stormwater control system laws.

The second-term mayor brushed off any insinuation of a scandal. He installed the system after a state investigation.

“It’s a non-story, a non-issue,” he said.