REGION —Washington, D.C. feels a world away from San Diego County.
But former Obama administration official Terra Lawson-Remer believes her work there will serve her well in the District 3 County Board of Supervisors seat. The second-generation San Diegan feels the area deserves more robust public service.
District 3, which stretches from Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, a large chunk of the northern part of the city of San Diego and north into Escondido, is also where Lawson-Remer grew up and attended public schools.
With an undergraduate degree from Yale and both a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, Lawson-Remer believes her academic training and experience as a senior advisor for the U.S. Department of Treasury will bring a fresh look to the County Board.
“This is home and where my heart is and where I’ve always voted, no matter where I might have been domiciled,” Lawson-Remer said about her decision to return home and run for the seat currently occupied by Supervisor Kristin Gaspar.
“So, I guess at some point had to make a decision that I was coming back because this was, this is my community and where I want to be and you know, where I want to raise a family and where I want to give back.”
Beyond wanting to get involved in the political process where she grew up, Lawson-Remer is also a passionate surfer.
Encinitas, she says, allows her to surf as much as possible, moving to the city in large part “for the waves.”
Lawson-Remer worked at Stanford University as a former fellow at its Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and currently works as a fellow out of University of California-San Diego at its Center on Global Transformation.
Upon completing her doctoral studies, Lawson-Remer worked as a professor at The New School in New York City.
From her experience in environmental justice advocacy to her involvement in a lawsuit against California’s curfew law as a high school student, Lawson-Remer said her track record paints a picture of someone with a thirst for social justice.
But it was anti-Iraq War activism and facing arrest for civil disobedience that led her to believe in the vitality of new representation.
“I really felt like my voice had been totally marginalized and I sort of looked around and thought, ‘You know, what is it going to take to create the kind of change I think we need to see in the world? Because people, power alone is not enough,’” Lawson-Remer said. “So we had a lot of people power, but we needed something else.”
For local politicos, Lawson-Remer may be best known as a leader of Flip the 49th, a multi-year effort to unseat former Congressman Darrell Issa, R-Vista, in the 49th U.S. Congressional District. Issa eventually retired, opening the seat for Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano.
Lawson-Remer is also the daughter of San Diego Democratic Party operative Larry Remer.
Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 election served as a “real wakeup call” to reinvigorate democracy on the local level, according to Lawson-Remer.
“No matter what you believe, no matter what side of the aisle you’re on, you don’t have a lot of space to get much done in Washington because it’s so gridlocked,” Lawson-Remer said.
Despite potential to achieve policy results, Lawson-Remer said the County Board of Supervisors has failed at its job, to-date.
“Nobody in our state and our county thinks the county does anything and they don’t know what the county does. And it’s because the county hasn’t been doing anything,” she said. “It’s only really in San Diego that the county is so invisible and, and frankly, falling down on the job.
“So I think we can talk about everything from climate change to wild space, conservation to traffic, transportation, affordable housing, immigration. All of these are all areas in which the county should be leading and it’s either doing nothing or often actually obstructionist in putting together a plan that actually good for San Diego and for the county as a whole.”
In particular, Lawson-Remer did not shy away from criticism of Gaspar and the multiple trips she has taken in the past year to attend meetings hosted by President Donald Trump at the White House.
“I mean, she’s not doing her job,” Lawson-Remer said. “She’s spending her time flying back to Washington to kowtow to Donald Trump instead of serving the needs of our community. She has a consistent voting record that doesn’t prioritize the environment, doesn’t prioritize sustainability, doesn’t prioritize climate change, doesn’t prioritize economic inclusion or opportunity.”
Further, Lawson-Remer decried Gaspar’s stance on immigration, saying that she believed building a U.S.-Mexico border wall is a misuse of economic resources needed to fund things like health care and education.
Lawson-Remer says that in the coming months, will roll out her campaign with door-to-door talks with voters, phone-banking and playing host to house parties.
“This is not about a candidate, this is about a community,” she said. “And the work we need to do is to work together to elect leadership that will reflect the future vision we all share for San Diego. It’s not really about me, it’s about we. It’s not about my vision, it’s about our vision.”