The Lake San Marcos Democratic Club is especially grateful to County Supervisor Dave Roberts who rearranged his schedule at the last minute to accommodate speaking to our club at the May monthly meeting. Due to a last minute cancellation of the pre-arranged speaker, Dave agreed just the day before to speak and we appreciate his flexibility.
Dave began by giving us an update of his beautiful and growing family. He now has six children. The oldest, Robert, is age 20 and in the Air Force, and Alex, 14, attends Torrey Pines High School and plays baseball and rugby. He had already adopted three siblings, Jill, 11, Joe who is 7, and Natalie, age 6. Natalie was in attendance at our meeting to support her dad! Now Dave is pleased to be in the process of adopting their fourth sibling, Manny, age 2.
The County Board is made up of five supervisors, and with the passage of a past ballot initiative instituting term limits, each elected can only serve a maximum of two 4 year terms. Supervisors Ron Roberts and Bill Horn are the first two to term out in 2016. The remainder of the Board, including Dave, will be up for one more term in the 2016 election. Given the diversity of Dave’s district and the fact that the original district lines were drawn while the Board was all Republican, much advance thinking will be needed to find a Democratic candidate who can run, win and hold it after Dave has termed out.
Dave provided an interesting overview of the county. Currently there are 17,036 employees of the county with a $5.4 billion budget this year. That is made up of $4 billion from the federal and state coffers supporting various programs, while the balance is from San Diego County taxpayers. The county touches all of us in many ways, including via our county parks and 33 county libraries. With 3.2 million people, San Diego County is the 5th most populous county in the entire U.S. and the 2nd most populated in California. According to SANDAG, our county is projected to grow by another one million people in the next 35 years.
The Board and Dave in particular feels the Governor made a mistake on his mandatory water restrictions since past efforts by San Diego water agencies to conserve and prepare for drought before it occurred were not taken into consideration. According to Dave, “San Diego has more water than they can sell”. The Board itself has nothing to do with water mandates or control of it, but the county does have a non-voting seat on the 36 seat Water Board and Dave holds that seat so he is well aware of the discussions surrounding the water restrictions.
San Diego water authorities started making investments to diversify our water sources years ago. For example, San Diego agreed to pay for lining the Imperial Water District’s canals, the All American and the Coachella. In exchange, the Imperial Water District has given San Diego credit for the water that has been saved from evaporation. The San Vincente dam was raised 100 feet to increase storage, and the Carlsbad desalination plant is due for completion later this year which will supply 7-10% of our needs. Currently only 40% of our water supply is now consider “imported” and the goal is to get that down to 30%. Dave suggested that in the future we may need to consider “regionalizing” water planning.
Finally, Dave discussed his accomplishments with his mental health projects. He discussed the “Exceptional Family Members Program” that has resulted in finding permanent adoptive homes for 36 out of 50 difficult to place foster children. A new program called “Laura’s Law” will be launching to allow family members to use the courts for getting care for mentally ill “at risk” family members. And he is working on expanding the mental health emergency response teams to help mentally ill people who act out in a criminal manner get the care they need rather than jail time. After all, “this is what fiscal responsibility means – investing up front to save dollars later”, Dave explained. Dave is now looking to the future as he ramps up efforts to improve the county’s suicide prevention capabilities. A work group has been formed, with military tie-ins, to make recommendations that are due in November.
Dave closed by thanking our club for being an early supporter in advance of the 2016 election.