By Ken Stone
Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar defeated the Republican Party’s favored candidate Tuesday and will be the November election challenger to incumbent Supervisor Dave Roberts. Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, endorsed by the county GOP, took third.
Democrat Roberts led the field in Tuesday’s election. But with 39.10 percent of the final tally, he fell 11 points short of the amount needed to avoid a November runoff.
The GOP’s Gaspar topped Abed 33.6 percent to 27.3 percent to claim the runoff spot.
Gaspar is hoping to unseat Roberts, who found himself in hot water last year when several members of his staff resigned amid allegations of a “hostile” work environment.
Roberts became vulnerable to a serious challenge after his colleagues on the board agreed to pay $310,000 to settle claims brought by three former staffers that he misused his powers.
The District Attorney’s Office declined to pursue criminal charges against Roberts, saying that while he may have violated county workplace policies, his actions did not meet the threshold for pursuing a criminal case.
Roberts said his opponents spent over half a million dollars “trying to make that issue the issue of this race, and as I said all along, I took responsibility. We really made changes in our office. I think they tried to smear my record with untrue allegations. And the district attorney did a review, and I think her report speaks for itself. We move forward.”
Asked whether he should have won in a walk, thanks to incumbency, Roberts said that when the districts were set up five years ago, “the 3rd District was the only competitive district.”
“From the very beginning,” he said, “my strategy had been to survive the primary. … Our goal was to survive tonight and win outright in November. I think that our message really caught on, and the voters liked our message.”
Voters, in his telling, have decided: “Continue moving forward. We’re sticking with you.”
Roberts said he expects to be “way outspent like we were in the primary, and like we were in 2012.” But he insisted that voters don’t care about such funding imbalance.
District 3 consists of almost 630,000 residents and takes in coastal communities including Torrey Pines State Beach, Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas. Other communities in the district are Mira Mesa, Escondido, the San Pasqual Valley, Lake Hodges, Rancho Bernardo, Carmel Mountain Ranch, Scripps Ranch, Tierrasanta and Sabre Springs.
In the other supervisors races, Greg Cox, who represents the South Bay, was re-elected without opposition.
East County Supervisor Dianne Jacob easily defeated challenger Rudy Reyes 74 percent to 26 percent.
Cox and Jacob, who have served on the panel for more than two decades, will enter their final four years in office before they’re ousted by the county’s relatively new term limits law.
While Gaspar was shuttling from one TV or radio interview to another, her husband, Paul, watched with pride.
“To tell you the truth, I expected her to do very well. She always does well,” he said. “And she’s a very good person. Hopefully she can bring hr talents to a wider level.”
Might vanquished rival Abed endorse his fellow mayor?
Paul Gaspar says that conversation might take place “in a little while.”
“Kristin has the support of a lot of people, and that’s what I think the most important thing is.”
Celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary soon, the Gaspars would expect changes in family and work life, he said.
“A little bit more driving time. But she’s always busy, whether it’s coaching her cheerleaders or helping out in the kids’ classes, or doing the mayor’s job,” he said.
He’d also lose his physical therapist company’s chief financial officer.
“We start the candidates search tomorrow,” he said with a laugh.
— City News Service contributed to this report.
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