Members of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday saluted two termed-out colleagues, Bill Horn and Ron Roberts, for their decades of leadership in local government.
Horn and Roberts offered brief reflections on their public service and received a standing ovation from their colleagues during a meeting of the board at the County Administration Center.
A former Marine and business owner who served on the Escondido Union High School District board in the early 1990s, Horn was first elected as a county supervisor in 1994 for District 5, an area that spans roughly 1,800 square miles from the Pacific Ocean to Imperial County.
Roberts, an architect and former San Diego councilman, was elected to the board in 1994 to represent District 4, which encompasses dozens of neighborhoods, mostly within that city’s boundaries.
Former San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond won Horn’s seat last month, while former state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher was elected to replace Roberts.
During his time on the board, Horn told his colleagues that he “tried to be a champion for North County,” adding that he hoped “the voters look at it that way.”
Horn said the county is in good financial shape because board members had managed to agree on major issues and served their constituents well.
When he and Roberts joined the legislative body, Horn recalled, they were told the county needed to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Instead, its leaders froze budgets, paid down bonds and sold off trash service.
Along with his staff and other county departments, Horn thanked first responders for their efforts, especially during major wildfires.
Roberts, for his part, said he would not trade his 31 years in government for anything. He credited numerous staff members for putting the county on a stable course.
“I thank all of you collectively for your friendship, support and camaraderie,” Roberts said.
He also praised citizens and community groups for their efforts on numerous projects, asserting that “they’re why we do this work.”
Roberts cited Veterans’ Village on Pacific Highway, the county operations center in Kearny Mesa, several sporting facilities, and Waterfront Park on Harbor Drive as major achievements in which he took part. He called the latter civic amenity “a landmark in San Diego — you can travel all over and won’t find anything like it.”
Board Chairwoman Kristin Gaspar described the two termed-out politicos’ final remarks as “a long goodbye.”
Supervisor Greg Cox called the departure of Horn and Roberts the end of an era. He credited Roberts for being a fierce advocate of foster children who “never stopped thinking about ways to make San Diego a better place to live.”
“Without Ron, there would have been no Waterfront Park,” Cox said. “Ron (also) was the driving force behind the county operations center.”
As for Horn, whose tenure at times could be controversial, Cox said the ex-Marine deserves credit for strong support of veterans and, outside the county purview, humanitarian work in Uganda.
“There’s a side of Bill that most people aren’t aware of,” Cox said. “His gruff exterior hides the fact that he cares about people.”
Supervisor Dianne Jacob opined that Horn and Roberts would leave lasting legacies.
“There are times we have fought in public, but in the end, we’re like family,” she said.
Jacob lauded the two men’s efforts to improve public safety and secure better pay for law enforcement personnel. She added that they were instrumental in transformed the county from near-insolvency in the 1990s to a regional government that boasts a “triple A” credit rating.
County Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer said Horn and Roberts “always treated staff as if it’s one team working together.” As a parting gift, she presented them with a book documenting their successes on county programs and projects.
–City News Service
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