ESCONDIDO — With the March 3 primary election just two and a half months away, San Diego County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar addressed her re-election efforts with the Escondido Republican Club at the group’s Dec. 16 meeting.
Running for an officially nonpartisan seat that she first won in 2016, Gaspar explained what her main message will be and also shared her thoughts on her two Democratic Party opponents — one of them in particular — in the race. And she positioned herself as a relative endangered species, with the number of Republican Party public officials in rapid decline in San Diego County.
“I can share with you my little secret how I can sleep well at night,” she said. “I can sleep well at night knowing that I have guiding principles that I operate by and when it gets tough, I choose to lean in. I don’t choose to change my political party to make it easier on a reelection effort. Absolutely not. So, there are a couple of us Republicans left in this county and we are going to fight hard with every fiber of our being to make sure that we’re back in office making sound decisions for our county”
On the campaign trail for her opponents — University of California-San Diego research fellow and former Obama administration U.S. Department of Treasury advisor Terra Lawson-Remer and Escondido City Councilwoman Olga Diaz — Gaspar’s two visits to the White House to speak with President Donald Trump have become prominent talking points. But Gaspar defended those sojourns to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue because she saw it as important to get the issues discussed on the table.
“If anyone listened to what I said at the table with the president of the United States, I was talking about some really important issues: human trafficking and drug trafficking across our border,” she said. “I’m going to talk about the billion-dollar human trafficking industry in San Diego, a billion-dollar industry. It’s really sick: 12,000 human trafficking victims and survivors in San Diego … It’s an issue I’m really passionate about, so criticize away for sitting at the table with president of the United States to share with him around what’s happening in San Diego.”
Gaspar also pointed to major labor unions going all-in against her in the race, likely to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cause.
“So, you may have read that the unions have already started a six-figure campaign to unseat me,” said Gaspar. “And I’m actually pretty proud of the big target that I wear on my back because I’ve chosen to speak up and do the right thing every minute that I’ve sat in that chair. And so if it makes me unpopular, then so be it.”
She added that she believes union interests have grasped the reins of power within the San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, on which Gaspar has a seat.
In drawing out that point, Gaspar pointed to the 2017 bill Assembly Bill 805, which created a weighted voting system for the SANDAG board. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez — husband of the current sole Democrat on the current Board of Supervisors — the state law allows for SANDAG to implement this voting method, which gives more weight and a higher vote tally to SANDAG representatives from larger population centers, when motioned for by a board member.
Gaspar said she thinks AB 805 has disempowered the North County representatives’ voting bloc. And she said she had a problem with the language in the legislation calling for SANDAG-authorized public works projects to have mandated project labor agreements, or PLAs, for unionized workers.
“I think it’s important that we talk about the union influence because that’s what’s really going on. They’re driving up the cost of every contract.” said Gaspar. “They’re making it to where all the new work big construction projects in this town are project labor agreements. You’ll hear the term PLA, but the PLAs exclude nonunion shops for bidding on projects. I think that’s wrong. I promote fair and open competition that keeps the price of our projects as low as possible in an area where these projects are very expensive.“
Gaspar said little about what she felt about Diaz. As in her campaign’s emails, she instead zeroed in on Lawson-Remer, who has raised far more money than Diaz so far in the run-up to the primary. Foreshadowing her electioneering messaging that has already come out in some campaign emails, Gaspar cast Lawson-Remer as a radical activist.
“She’s long been known as an activist, very proud of her arrest record,” said Gaspar. “The most notable arrest was in New York City, where she rappelled from the building as part of the protest and even Mayor Bloomberg was like, ‘OK, now we’ve taken things much too far because public safety was compromised.’ But she was also arrested in Seattle as part of riots. So very active.”
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 outlet, 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. Contact Steve at email@example.com.