SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Voters filling the Board of Supervisors seat being vacated by Pam Slater-Price will choose today between Steve Danon, chief of staff to Rep. Brian Bilbray, and Dave Roberts, the deputy mayor of Solana Beach.
The race marks the first time since 1995 that a seat has opened up on the five-member board.
Slater-Price, whose District 3 stretches from Encinitas to Escondido and includes some northern San Diego areas, is retiring. The campaign to replace her focused largely on job creation and bolstering the economy.
Roberts cited experience in the government and private sectors, adding he helped create 3,200 jobs over a decade while working for a Fortune 500 company.
If elected, he would form an office of small business development, "which helps grow and incentivize small businesses to help in job creation and how to get through the red tape at the county in order to promote and create new jobs."
The county should also focus on its tourism, culture and arts industries. Cultural visitors to San Diego County spend twice as much as other visitors, it employs the equivalent of 20,000 full-time workers and brings in $70 million annually in tax revenue, Roberts said.
The military and veterans' communities in San Diego County were also critical, he added.
Danon, if elected, would collaborate with chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and business leaders to retain, recruit and create a healthier business environment to provide better paying jobs.
"First and foremost, we need to ensure that the jobs that have been created in San Diego stay in San Diego, so retention is our number one priority," Danon said.
Danon said the county's Department of Planning and Land Use could be streamlined to expedite the permitting process because "it should not take two to seven years for businesses to get their permit to expand."
Roberts also favored streamlining the DPLU's business-permit process in part by getting plans approved in a more orderly fashion and reviewing open-ended fees.
Danon said if elected, he would try to end the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program, which provides $5 million in grant funds to county departments, public agencies and nonprofits each year.
The "slush fund," if not completely eliminated through a supervisorial vote, should include a citizens review commission "so that every group and organization that applies for taxpayer dollars is thoroughly vetted," Danon said.
Roberts said it should stay and that the supervisors run the program through an open and transparent process.
"I want that money to stay right here. It is an economic stimulus," Roberts said. "This money goes for things such as veterans programs, for animal shelters, for domestic abuse survivors and their children, to support the community resource center -- this is a critical program."
Danon would work to reduce the supervisorial office budget and to end taxpayer-funded supervisor pensions in favor of a 401(k)-style program.
Roberts said as deputy mayor and as a city councilman he worked to reform the pension system and reduce costs in Solana Beach.
Danon's priorities included creating a countywide regional fire fighting authority and an ethics commission. Roberts stressed environmental and quality of life initiatives.
Roberts and Danon advanced to a runoff when neither received more than 50 percent of the vote in June primary election. Del Mar Mayor Carl Hilliard; Bryan Ziegler, deputy county counsel; and Stephen Pate, a transportation coordinator in the film industry were knocked out of the race.
Incumbent supervisors Greg Cox and Dianne Jacob beat challengers outright in their June reelection bids.
Cox, whose district covers the county's southern portion, had no trouble with Brant Will, a deputy city attorney in San Diego.
Jacob cruised to re-election for her East County seat against Rudy Reyes, an archaeologist who was severely burned in the 2003 Cedar Fire.
Combined, the supervisors represent about three million residents and oversee a nearly $5 billion budget.