BESCONDIDO — At a March 18 luncheon, County Supervisor Jim Desmond addressed the Escondido Republican Club.
The former San Marcos mayor discussed his priorities for the Board of Supervisors and what he has emphasized to-date in his position representing District 5.
Desmond won the seat in November 2018 after serving 12 years as San Marcos’ top position.
At the top of his agenda was the issue of those asylum in the U.S., the refugee crisis and who will pay for it.
Desmond expressed worry that San Diego County, first and foremost, would foot the bill.
“The federal government should be paying those costs and/or the state of California because the state wants to be a sanctuary state,” said Desmond. “The state, however, is willing to allow San Diego County residents to be stuck with that bill for all the health services for the asylum seekers. So that was day one.”
The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) also serves as a central node of focus, particularly battles over funding for public transportation projects.
Desmond pointed to former Mayor Sam Abed, in attendance at the meeting, as someone he missed having as an ally on these issues.
“Unfortunately, SANDAG now has come up with this Grand Central Station that they want to put downtown, of course, in San Diego to build and bring transit to the airport,” Desmond said. “Now, it’s going to be a billion dollar project and what we’ve done, unfortunately, in the meantime, is put on hold all the other projects that were in the pipeline for the 78. Fourteen of the 15 projects that are on-hold were all road projects.”
When talking about public transportation, Desmond made an allusion to a statement made by independent candidate Ross Perot during the 1992 presidential election.
“Unfortunately the sucking sound within SANDAG is San Diego is taking all the transportation dollars down there,” he said. “They’ve got the votes, Lorena Gonzalez: She’s no friend of San Diego County, in my opinion, but she was able to change the voting status at SANDAG so that the city of San Diego and Chula Vista have the largest share of the votes for all the transportation money at San Diego forever.”
Desmond said he moved into a condo and takes the COASTER to work at the County Administration Building located in downtown San Diego.
Homelessness remains a major issue, especially in Fallbroo, according to Desmond.
“Fallbrook is a beautiful little town, but in their downtown district, the main streets are being inundated with homeless individuals,” he said. “And so we’re trying to help some of these folks get into programs. The county has tons of money for programs to try to get people off the street.
Desmond suggested similar efforts were needed in Oceanside to facilitate moving homeless people away from the San Luis Rey River.
“It’s not good for water quality coming out of there,” said Desmond. “They’re using the river as a toilet and so we want to try to help them.”
Desmond also said he has begun doing a podcast, titled “Around The County,” currently streaming on SoundCloud. The broadcast is a way to share more information with his constituents about acitivities associated with the County Board of Supervisors, Desmond said.
At the end of the luncheon, various delegates spoke, including Ed Gallo, the former member of the Escondido City Council representing District 1, who also serves as a member of the board of directors for the Republican Club.
Gallo, unseated after a landslide defeat to Consuelo Martinez, had harsh words for current the Escondido City Council.
“Their big issue is communication,” Gallo said. “You want to communicate? Talk to the people. That’s all you have to do.”
When someone in the crowd jested, “In Spanish,” Gallo responded by saying he believes city council meetings could be bilingual.
“You said that tongue in cheek, I’m sure, but don’t be surprised within the next few months that you’re going to have a bilingual council meeting,” he said. “OK. Because we have a couple activists on that council right now who will push that stuff through.”
Gallo also derided the council’s recent decision to move one meeting per month to a 6 p.m. instead of the current 4:30 p.m. meeting time.
“If the topic of discussion is that important, you’ll go to the meeting. It doesn’t matter if it’s 8 in the morning when the City Council used to meet way back when, or if it’s at 10 at night, if it’s important to you, you’ll be there.”
Steve Horn is a San Diego, CA-based reporter covering Escondido and San Marcos. He works in a full-time capacity for The Real News Network, an online broadcast news ouetlet, covering climate change. He has worked as a staff investigative reporter for the publications Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News and as an investigative reporter for the climate news website DeSmog.com.
A native of Wisconsin and graduate of University of Wisconsin, Steve is a competitive distance runner, with a personal best time in the marathon of 2:43:04 and nine marathons under his belt. He also has served on the film screening committee for the San Diego International Film Festival.