San Marcos Mayor at GOP Event: English is City Government’s Language

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By Ken Stone

San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond, a Republican running for the county Board of Supervisors, is brushing off any political harm from remarks he made to a GOP group in November.

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Jim Desmond speaks to GOP audience in November 2017. Photo via Kimberly Mead.

An audio obtained by Times of San Diego has Desmond saying: “In the City of San Marcos, there is no ‘Press 2 for Spanish.’ … English is the language of the government in the City of San Marcos.”

Several audience members are heard voicing their approval.

The remark came during a series of boasts about his North County city of 95,000. He also said San Marcos outsources law enforcement and maintenance, among other functions, and that “our median income has gone up 9 percent a year every year since 2011.”

In a phone interview Monday, Desmond confirmed the remarks but didn’t recall what led up to them.

In any case, he didn’t think he’d be hurt politically among Hispanic voters, although “I would imagine that the people who sent it to you think that.”

Desmond, a 26-year San Marcos resident, said English isn’t the city’s official language — just one that is used predominantly. He cited the city magazine and agendas as examples.

“If you listen to the City of San Diego’s telephone, there’s no ‘2 for Spanish,'” he said. “It’s not that we shun them. We just don’t have a number that you press 2. … However, we do have Spanish services at the front desk.”

He said local firefighters and sheriff’s deputies get extra pay if they speak another language.

“We have translators for people when they come to a City Council meeting,” he noted. (City Clerk Phil Scollick added that Spanish speakers phoning the city can get help as well.)

Desmond expressed confidence that he’ll win Hispanic votes because “in San Marcos we have helped them immensely. We have invested heavily in Hispanic areas in our town.”

A photo of Desmond at the meeting — the 75th Assembly District GOP caucus at Mike’s BBQ in Escondido — was shared by attendee Kimberly Mead on Facebook. She confirmed that she took the picture.

Oceanside Councilman Jerome “Jerry” Kern, one of his GOP rivals, said: “I have no comment at this time.”

Also running to fill the North County seat of termed out Supervisor Bill Horn are Democrats Michelle Gomez and Jacqueline Arsivaud Benjamin. They didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The top two vote-getters in the officially nonpartisan June 5 primary will face off Nov. 6 if they fall short of 50 percent.

The 2010 census indicates San Marcos is 37 percent Hispanic, compared with less than a third for the county as a whole.

San Diego County’s District 5 also includes the cities of Vista and Carlsbad and stretches east to Anza Borrego Springs.

As of April 2, the district had 325,831 voters — 37 percent Republican, 30 percent Democratic and 26 percent declining to state.

Desmond said he’s heard no complaints from anyone that “we don’t provide enough information in Spanish.”

He added: “We have no animosity with the Spanish-speaking people at all. It’s just that we predominantly use English in all our government dealings.”

Map shows District 5 of San Diego County in orange. Image via San Diego County
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