Democrats Jacqueline Arsivaud and Michelle Gomez and Republicans Jim Desmond and Jerry Kern are running to replace termed-out San Diego County supervisor Bill Horn in the county’s fifth supervisorial district, which has about 620,000 residents and spans nearly 1,800 square miles of North County. The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board conducted extended, separate interviews with all four candidates. Here are those interviews, lightly edited. The two top vote-getters in the June 5 primary will advance to a runoff election in November.
KERN: Yeah, I’ve been an Oceanside City Council member for 12 years. You know I have the skill set that I’ve acquired running… being on the board for the largest city in North County and it’s a full service city, so we have our own police, our own fire, our own water, we have our own harbor, we have our own airport. So all those things that the County does, I have done at…, but not on that scale, except for one thing and that’s the social service side. The social service side we defer to the County on that for Child Protective Services, you know, probation and all those other things that we defer to. So I feel that I have the skills to go forward and do this. I’ve been on the Council for 12 years, so I feel that I’ve learned enough to go forward. I also feel that I’ve been on the Council 12 years and that’s enough. You know I think… I don’t believe in term limits, but I think at a certain point in time it is time to move on and here’s an opportunity for an open seat to either, you know, like move up or basically maybe retire. I don’t know. I mean the idea that, you know, here’s an opportunity that presented itself and so I took it and I think I’m well qualified for the job. I think I can be of service. I’ve always been in service to the people of Oceanside.
My basic philosophy of government is we’re the service delivery business.
My basic philosophy of government is we’re the service delivery business, so the idea that we’ll bring those services to people, you guys give us… or Oceanside residents or North County residents give us their tax dollars and they expect services in return, they want roads, they want public safety, they want all of those things that we get together and recognize as government to do, so…, you know.
Q: Twelve years is a long time on any council. What would you say is your biggest accomplishment in that span?
KERN: Actually if you really look at it, if you’ve been down to Oceanside in the last two years of how much we have come back. You know obviously I got on in 2006, we went through the recession, we’ve come back. Our reserves were at zero. We’re now probably $66 million total reserve without a tax increase. The biggest political accomplishment, besides beating the recall which was quite the feat and I don’t wish that on anybody. But I think the city charter, you know, the charter came about and it’s really helped and actually in ways you don’t understand. … We went in a JPA with Tri-City Hospital and we’re saving them tens of thousands of dollars on their building of their parking structure because we went in the JPA. The City has design build authority as a charter city. So we are using our design build authority with Tri-City Hospital so they can build their parking structure and so instead of the design, bid, build which costs us tens of thousands more and plus the fact that when you have a design and you out and bid it and only get half way through, oh no, the design was all wrong. You have all these other things to design and build. You say, okay, I want a parking structure and here’s your money. At the end of the day, give me the keys and we’re done. So that’s… that’s helpful. I mean I think that’s a… that saved the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars within the Tri-City Medical Center area, so as far as political accomplishment, I would probably put that as number one… well number two. Number one is really defeating the recall. That was probably the hardest campaign I’ve ever run.
Q: Yeah, since you brought that up, obviously that’s kind of ancient history, that…
Q: in Oceanside, but as someone who now maybe lives outside the city and is looking to you for this seat, what should they take away from the fact that people came kind of gunning for bear with you?
KERN: Well not people, the unions. You know in 2008… or 2006 when I first got elected, I finally started looking at all the numbers within the city, you know, a lot of people do that and I realized this pension system… in 2008, I realized the pension system is not sustainable, you know, there’s a real problem here and so I started questioning a lot of what’s going on and the unions at that time did not like it. So they launched a recall, they spent a quarter of a million dollars to recall me and it’s…, you know, a freshman council member. So I was quite taken aback, but you know we fought it and so that was a million dollar race for a council seat and not only that, I had to run for reelection like 11 months later. So I don’t understand why they just didn’t wait and put all their weight on trying to defeat me in the election instead of doing a recall, so… and I have never got a straight answer why they did that, you know, they all seemed… afterwards it’s all buddy, buddy and let’s make up. They realized I’m going to be there and stuff, so I think that’s one of the strange things about politics, I guess, yeah and why they would do that, but I understand that was just at the beginning when people started pensions and long term viability of cities and so… cities have gone bankrupt. San Bernardino, Vallejo, in San Bernardino, in Stockton. Stockton went bankrupt because their council just spent money like crazy doing their Downtown River Walk and things like that. San Bernardino is the true picture of what happens when you have out of control pensions. You know they…, you know, the recession, you know, they couldn’t keep up with their pension payments, so they had to basically restructure.
Q: You mentioned reserves, that’s becoming one of the defining characteristics of this race. You mentioned you grew Oceanside’s from zero to $66 million I think you just said?
If we’re going to accumulate money in government just to accumulate money, you know, and we don’t use it to provide services, give it back to the people.
KERN: And I think it goes back to my basic philosophy, the idea that we’re the service delivery business. If we’re going to accumulate money in government just to accumulate money, you know, and we don’t use it to provide services, give it back to the people that gave it to you. It’s not government’s money. I mean if you’re not going to spend it on services, it would look better in their checkbooks than in ours. I mean the idea that, you know, that’s why we organize into different jurisdictions and cities and counties and states that get those services that people want. You know just to accumulate money to say at the end of the day, we’ve got $1.7 billion reserve in cash, sitting in the bank someplace, how does that help the guy in Fallbrook that can’t get a pothole fixed you know? How does it help the homeless people with, you know, the hepatitis A outbreak you know? How does it help people by you accumulating money, you know? I just don’t… I understand a little bit about that, but I think you, just like personally, you keep a lot of money, you know, rainy day funds, I can understand that. But keeping more money in government than needed is not… I don’t think it’s a valid reason.
KERN: I would probably say…, you know, the City of Oceanside, our reserves are about two, two-and-a-half, three months worth. The idea that… so if the big one hits and we have to go out and hire private contractors for dump trunks and cranes and clearing things up, that we have the cash on hand to do that. After about that, I think the whole system will come back online and you can actually start collecting money through taxes and the regular payments, but for… obviously the seismic event would probably be the big one, but the idea that… why would you need more than three months. I think 90 days cash reserves to handle whatever comes forward is probably enough. Obviously we’ve never touched it in all these years. So I think that’s the appropriate level.
Q: And what would you say the level is at now? Because Jim Desmond had a very methodical way of looking at the reserves and he did some math to show that it’s about a 70 day kind of operating reserves.
KERN: $1.7 billion, that’s more than… I mean their whole budget is $5.7, so where does he get that $1.7…?
KERN: Yeah, but the idea that still a reserve account, you know, that you can actually utilize, so I think they have too much… they ought to spend some of that to… like I said, for services. Yeah, you can… and I’m sure they go through all these justifications that… that, okay, we need this money just in case we get hit by a meteor or something, you know, we have the meteor account or something and they start squirreling money away. A lot of government, they squirrel money away in position control, that they fund these positions and never fill them and so they have money just sitting there and they claw back at the end of the year which I put an end to in Oceanside when I started to see how that worked, you know, position control is that you have fully funded positions, you never fill the position. Oh we’re at the end of the year, we have this $100,000 that we haven’t funded, let’s go out and buy a new copier or let’s go out and do this, so I… that’s no longer sits with the departments, that comes back to the general fund.
Q: How would you draw the reserves down? What specifically… not necessarily each specific program, small program, but generally speaking what areas do you think should have more money spent on them?
KERN: Probation needs their funding restored. You know the idea that with all these realignments and they cut Probation by 20 million bucks, but now you have probation officers that are their client base is 80 to 100 people, you know, we are… the only reason that we are staying as safe as we are without… with this realignment is Probation is working really, really hard to stay on top of their client list, you know, for those people to… not to re-offend. I think day one is to restore the funding for Probation because those guys are really the frontline and try to keep us safe and keeping the residents… or their clients from re-offending.
Q: Your Republican opponent, you mentioned endorsements, what do you think cost you the endorsements you hoped you had, and what do you think is the difference between the two of you?
KERN: The number one reason I lost the Republican endorsement at the county level is the cannabis issue. You know I… here’s again a philosophical statement. You know 57 percent of the people in California voted for cannabis, 57 percent of the people in Oceanside voted for it. I voted against both, but it’s my job as a public official to carry out the will of the people and to have somebody like… well my opponent in San Marcos that just outright banned it, San Marcos voted 55 percent for it, I think it’s the height of hubris almost to the point of arrogance, in fact, beyond arrogance, it’s elitism to say well they didn’t know what they were voting for, they didn’t really mean it, we’re just going to ban it for their own good. So when you say… take it upon yourself to interpret what the voters did without actually reading the vote, I don’t think that’s the kind of person that you want at the county level. You know you want somebody that actually follows the will of the people, so… and I keep telling my colleagues, my Republican colleagues that say, look, you can either stand on the track and have the train run you over or you can climb in the cab and try to control it, and that’s what I did. That’s why I worked with Deputy Mayor [Chuck] Lowery to try… how do we control this? And I thought we have good ordinances, you know, the cultivation is only in the ag zones. I don’t want anything in the industrial parks, you know? I want industrial property used for jobs. I don’t want to use it for plants. So put it out in the ag zone, I…, you know, as far as manufacturing, if there’s, you know, edibles and in fact there’s a chocolate company in Oakland that employees 200 people making edibles. You know that would be appropriate for an industrial building, I don’t mind that, so… and obviously all… in fact, we have our second reading tonight and we… the only thing that we struggled with and tried to get everybody on board with is the dispensaries, that’s the public face. So I don’t know where we go from there, it’s very…, you know, there’s certain… a lot of trepidation on my colleagues’ parts on the council about the dispensaries. That’s the concern of the people, but when you cultivate a… South Morro Hills in Oceanside is about 3,500 acres of agriculture within the city limits. So that’s where we’re… that we’re trying to bring in cultivation. People are never going to see it. You know there’s going to be… they have greenhouses out there already. They’re just converting their greenhouses from growing flowers and hot house tomatoes to cannabis. So as far as the visual of that, it’s going to be zero and then industrial, tilt up industrial buildings and they bring stuff in, they make it and they ship stuff out. They’re not going to notice it either. It’s the dispensaries that have people worried. So I think eventually we will get there, but it’s going to be a long road. But I’m not in any hurry, you know, I’ve told people I’d rather do this right than do this quickly. So the idea that we have this ad hoc committee, I’ve been at it for over a year. We’ve had public hearings, we’ve had input from people within the industry. You know we’ve heard from the other side with the detractors, but I think we came up with a good set of ordinances about cultivation and distribution, testing, and I would probably advocate bringing those things to the County.
Q: We had the Sheriff’s candidates in here discussing the very issue of pop-up dispensaries and whether it… to what level does it rise in the legal world? Is it a kick the door down, guns drawn situation or is it send them a note, tell them to shut down?
KERN: Well we’ve been… every city has been playing this whack-a-mole with pop-up dispensaries, you know, we do it through a code enforcement action, you know, we don’t… we serve notice with them, we send code officers down, then we start… and code has this level of… how much pain can you stand, you know, okay, look, you got to shut down, if you don’t shut down tomorrow it’s 100 bucks. You know we come back the next time, you’re still open, okay, now it’s $200, then it goes to $500, then it goes to $1,000, then it goes to $1,000 a day and at a certain point in time, the pay level is so high, they say, look, we got to close. So we’ve been doing that in Oceanside and I’m sure other cities have been doing that too. We… I think the number one thing, if we get legal dispensaries, zoned correctly, going through the process, getting their permits, getting their licenses and stuff, they’re going to be your number one advocate for closing down the pop-ups because they’re the ones who are going to go, hey, there’s a pop-up that opened up three blocks away and we need to close that down. So I think as we go through this, it’s just like any other regulated use, the people that go through the process, get all the background checks and pay all the fees and do it the right way, they’re very mindful of having illegal competition, so I think in the long run by legalizing and… this and normalizing this as industry over a period of time a lot of those pop-up ones will go away. The biggest problem is the illegal ones are the ones that have problems with police and people hanging out, since it’s an all cash business, you know, that’s the real issue that they have about crime and so people have that perception in their mind about a dispensary is a haven for crime. You know you’re going to have people… stoned people hanging around and, you know, doing that. I have found in my year of research that the professionals are different than what you think they are. The idea that… I went to the Santa Ysabel grow up there because the casino shut down and they converted it to cannabis and you walk in and you see these guys in khaki pants and polo shirts and two out of the three had MBAs. I mean they’re… these are professionals and so I think that’s what you’ll see going into this is the people that actually know how to write a business plan, how to operate a business. I think that’s what you’re going to see in the future of this industry.
Q: So it’s interesting kind of big picture question. Do you vote your track record and your conscience or vote the will of the public with this issue? And are there other issues that you would do that or, you know, like how malleable is your support for something?
KERN: Well, if it goes to a vote and the people say something, it’s my job to carry out the will of the people. Now up until that point, we’re in a representative democracy. So I’m going to say this is how I stand for, I go out to the electorate, they elect me because this is the platform I’ve run on and I will vote my conscience on all of those and do those things, until there’s a vote of the people that basically says something different. An example of that and I got hammered on is I was opposed to rent control in Oceanside. I wanted vacancy decontrol for the mobile home parks. I’m a property rights guy. I think, you know, having government interject itself in between the tenant and the land owner is wrong. It went to a vote of the people and they turned my idea down. I have not touched it since. You know I… if the people want rent control in mobile home parks that’s what… I will back up their decision, so you know…
Q: Thank you. Another issue that is kind of dividing public and government agencies is immigration, sanctuary cities and states particularly. How would you vote if you were on the Council… excuse me the Supervisors now, it’s coming obviously, Kristen Gaspar has put it on the agenda for discussion. Do you think that she should have? Is that a good discussion to have and how would you vote?
KERN: At a macro level, immigration is too good an issue to solve. Each side gets to beat the other side up on it, so nobody really wants a solution, you know, so I always say to people, this is too good an issue to find the solution for because it gives us something to fight about and to talk about. I firmly believe that this is a federal issue, the idea that… it is a failure of Congress to do their job. You know the whole reason that President Obama did DACA was because Congress wasn’t moving and now President Trump is rescinding DACA and I… I taught history, civics and economics. President Trump is completely within his rights to rescind an executive order. He’s the executive, he rescinds other executive orders and he’s still within his rights. It doesn’t solve the problem. I don’t know what’s…what good it will be is… other than we get talking points and we get to beat the other side up because we filed a lawsuit with the federal government. The City of Oceanside, we’re not taking a stand on it. You know what… what is one more amicus brief in this whole ball of wax? I mean the idea that is that really going to sway the courts? Oh, the City of Oceanside weighed in with an amicus brief about immigration. You know, no. Yeah, the court should settle it. The court should take their time and weigh it, you know, judiciously I guess is the right term, but having people out there screaming and yelling at each other and trying, you know, to make their points without coming up with a solution, I don’t think it… it’s worth it. I don’t think it works for us. I don’t think it solves anything.
Q: But if it was on the agenda and you had to vote, would you… you have to… you can’t abstain, right? You have to come down with a decision.
KERN: We’re still out on an island. I mean… and that’s been the biggest concern, it… to address the first part of your question. You realize that in 2020 if Kristen Gaspar doesn’t move to the 49th [Congressional District] and she gets reelected to Supervisor in 2020, she will be the senior supervisor. Everybody else will be gone. So in the next two years if Bill Horn is any example, those supervisors are going to start checking out. They’re going to just start going through the motions and planning the next part of their life. Bill Horn has basically disappeared. You know I… Bill has done a good job, I’m not going to do that, but I’m on the Community Engagement Panel for the decommissioning of San Onofre. Bill is on that panel, in three years he’s only shown up twice, you know, so…
KERN: So in fact I… no good deed goes unpunished. I am now the secretary of the committee and I… because I worked really hard to… to move that nuclear fuel out of San Onofre. I’ve… Darrell Issa was… my concern about Darrell leaving, he was a champion for that and the legislation that he carried and pushed through. I’ve talked to Scott Peters about it. Scott, you know, was very supportive of it and I’m sure Scott will remain. I’ve given briefings to all the Republican leading candidates for the 49th and I’ve offered to do the same for all the Democrats. On that particular issue, I am not partisan at all. I want a solution. I want to move that fuel to a consolidated interim storage site. When it’s ready to go in 2023, I want it moved and so I… I’m working really, really hard for that because I think that’s… that’s an issue throughout the region that we need to get resolved.
Q: How likely is it that that will move and it won’t just stay in those containers?
Q: How likely is it that that will be moved and it won’t just stay on that beach which is a fear that some have.
KERN: Well right now there’s two sites, one in Texas and one in New Mexico, they’re only 25 miles apart. So if you can imagine Texas, El Paso to Odessa where that corner of New Mexico clips into Texas. That’s where those sites are at. One is in Eddy and Lea County in New Mexico, and the other one is in Anderson County, Texas, and so they’re going through the process right now and the permitting. One is actually done by Holtec, which is the people that designed the canisters here, but it literally takes an act of Congress to move it. The Nuclear Waste Act of 1982 says the Department of Energy will only take possession of it when it goes to permanent storage, which is Yucca Mountain. I don’t care if Yucca Mountain gets open or not. I’m… if it gets open fine, if not fine. I just want the stuff moved. I don’t want to go all our eggs in one basket and Yucca Mountain gets… the rug gets pulled out from Yucca Mountain again. So, like I said, it’ll literally take an act of Congress to move that and so once that change comes in that they can actually move it to consolidated interim storage, I think it’ll be moved. Now some of that fuel at San Onofre can’t be moved until 2030, but most of it can be moved about 2023. Ironically the stuff that can’t be moved until 2030 is the stuff from unit one that decommissioned years ago because…
Q: So other North County issues, it’s a very diverse district obviously, very different needs from east to west.
KERN: Well actually transit ridership in the North County has declined because, you know, part… part of it is housing, you know, we’ve been so tough on housing that people are moving further and further out. They’re moving in to south Riverside County and if you listen to the radio every morning you start hearing that backup. It used to be all Rancho Bernardo Road, now you’re hearing at the 78. Now you’re hearing Gopher Canyon, you know, is starting to backup. So, you know, we… we have a lot of problems in that that we don’t want to build any housing. I think, you know, [former Union-Tribune columnist] Dan McSwain, I think he hit the nail on the head. I can’t remember when that was, last August, last September when he did that article that the people that have houses don’t want any more houses. You know that fight in the back county is just as fierce inside the cities, you know, we do a… an infill project of 50 or 60 homes, we have people with torches and pitchforks coming to city council and saying, we don’t want it. But then philosophically, oh, we need more housing. Where are our children going to live? Everybody wants housing in your neighborhood, right, but they don’t want it in my neighborhood, they want it in your neighborhood.
We need housing because if we do not solve that problem, you will see a stagnation in San Diego County.
KERN: I am on the record that we need housing because if we do not solve that problem, you will see a stagnation in San Diego County. We are already starting to see it. We’re starting to see a lack of talent in North County because a lot of the millennials are leaving, you know, we’re… one of the things that we export in North County is talent now because they are moving to Texas and Arizona. They want that and this philosophy that the millennials want to buy a condo in a 25-story apartment building to raise their kids and have to go down 25 stories and three blocks to a tot lot, that’s just not going to happen. They want the same things that we had. They want a place to live and a backyard for their kids and so they’re going to go find it and if they can’t find it here, they’ll find it someplace else. You know it’s a quality of life issue for them. So right now we’re in this quandary here as a community of how are we going to treat housing? I am pro housing, you know, I…, you know, I… the Lilac Hills project, I’m sure I’m going to get beat up in Valley Center when we go to that forum, but I was for that because, hey, this is one step closer to a housing solution. Housing all the way across. There’s also a state bill that’s actually sponsored by the California Association of Realtors about the portability of Proposition 13. So we have people trapped in these four bedroom house, my age or older, you know, just empty nesters. So they’re sitting in these 22, 24, 2,500 square foot houses, but they can’t sell and move to a condo because the property… the property tax would be too high and if they can take that property tax with them, that basis with them, they buy the small condo, it frees up a family home for a family and that property tax is going to go up on that family home when another family buys it. So I think in the end run I don’t think we lose any money, but we also free up some housing. So I think it’s a… it’s not a solution, but it’s one arrow in the quiver of getting things done.
KERN: Well if we don’t… well if we don’t build Gopher Canyon, they’re going to still continue building in south Riverside County and now it’s going to be backed up at [State Route] 76. You know the idea that… we need to put people close to their work, because people, you know, they work down in Rancho Bernardo, they work down in the Mesas and they’re living… and their driving commutes. The average commute in North County is at least 30 minutes and it’s getting longer because people get pushed further and further out. The reason that I was against Measure A is because the public transportation portion came all down to San Diego, it did not benefit North County. We… in fact I think the total benefit for North County was like 14 percent of the money. You know we’re 20 percent of the county as far as population wise, area wise we’re probably 30 percent of the county if not more, but everything is focused down here. I think there’s becoming more and more resentment in North County about the City of San Diego.
KERN: The idea that he… because the filing deadline is March 9, so he goes down on February 9 to change his registration because he lives in Oceanside, he lives out in Arrowood. Well the county is not a month, the county is 30 days. February only has 28 days. So somebody on his team screwed up by two days, so… which tells you what his… and I’m sure this is kind of bird walking, but the idea of what his… his chances are at the 49th [Congressional District], so… but again I… we were talking about how I think our side is screwed up, how… tribalism within the Republican Party. The Democrats are worse because I hear that there’s petitions to get [Sara] Jacobs and [Paul] Kerr to drop out and then people are no, no, no, we have petitioned to get [Mike] Levin and Kerr to drop out because, you know, Jacobs and Applegate are the stars, so as screwed up as we are, they’re screwed up too, so like I said we’ve come back from these…, the cohesive part is to… we’re now divided into tribes, so…
Q: How about the Democrats in your race? They’re not as kind of high profile as you and Jim Desmond.
KERN: Michelle [Gomez] I like, I’ve met Michelle, you know, we… when she was running for the 76th we did the street fair circuit together. We had our booths out in the street fairs and actually (unintelligible) is coming up on Sunday and so I met with her and talked to her and she was nice. She was running for the 76th. Well I’m sure they responded to the same type of email that [San Diego County Republican Party chairman] Tony Krvaric sent out on our side saying, look, we have these races. There’s nobody in our team running, we need a couple team players just to jump in, so she literally jumped in… the filing deadline was on a Friday, she jumped in Wednesday afternoon. She pulled her papers Wednesday afternoon, came back with her 20 signatures on Thursday I think. Jacqueline not Jacquelyn, Jacqueline literally pulled her papers on a Thursday and filed them on a Friday. I don’t know her. She’s… and I can’t say too much about her, except it seems like she’s just a one-trick pony, no building, no building, no building.
KERN: Yeah, so… so yeah I mean, but that’s that changing demographic that we talked about earlier and about how North County and especially North County coastal is changing, you know, more purple and probably within the next two cycles it’ll be blue. I mean it’s… it’s the reality there and a lot of the people are retiring and leaving the area, you know, you have younger generation. So how we deal with that as a party, but I think… I think in California the Republicans are third in registration behind decline to states, so again I think even… even though the Democrats are losing more people every month to decline to state than Republicans because they have a larger base to start from, so it’s not just the people that are Republican and going to decline to state, it’s people from both parties just abandoning the party system.
KERN: As far as the police force, yes, because, you know, we are a city of 42 square miles and we do have pockets of very high calls for service. You know we have Eastside neighborhood. We had a murder in Eastside this morning. We have the Mesa Margarita out towards the back gate where we had a police officer killed years ago. So I like a local police force because when I mentioned Mesa Margarita to a police officer, they know exactly what and they know the history of it and they have the background. The Sheriff does a very good job. The only problem I have with the Sheriff being all encompassing that, okay, you’re a motorcycle sheriff in Encinitas and you make sergeant. Okay, now you’re a sergeant and you’re an administrator, you’re going to Fallbrook. Okay, now what about Fallbrook. You don’t even know all the street names, you don’t know where the problems are and things like that and you do a good job, you’re at Fallbrook and you kind of get settled and okay, you make lieutenant. Okay, now you’re going to San Marcos. So I have a real problem with that as far as that. Now the sheriffs do a good job at that and they do have some background, but as far as the City of Oceanside, I would prefer a police force that… that’s really in tune to the community, especially when we have community policing … and [Oceanside Police Chief] Frank McCoy has done a great job. They… because now those officers are in the neighborhood, so they’re not calling police officers… or the police department, they’re calling Ed, the officer on the beat. They’re calling…, you know, so that has worked really well for us and I think that’s something that I would maintain if I stayed on the city council. Fire we could probably integrate more. In fire, we’re trying to integrate more, you know, the problem with fire…, you know, because we have boundary drops. The idea we go… we all belong to the Rancho Santa Fe dispatch and so whoever the closest unit is goes. So there’s kind of this no real (unintelligible) distinctions on fire. So Ocean Hills which is that southeast corner, they probably get serviced more by Vista than they do by Oceanside. South Oceanside it’s nothing to see a Carlsbad ambulance in south Oceanside or Oceanside ambulance in north Carlsbad. So as far as they goes, I would be in favor of integrating that totally, but the problem is that we have different pay scales and different [Cal] PERS things and stuff like that, so that… the unions are kind of resistant of that, so…, but I think fire for all practical purposes, you know, for Tri-City we’ve basically done away from the city lines. The police I’d like to keep that way.
KERN: Well nobody wants to be a police officer anymore. We are… we’re authorized 211 officers on our budget. We run usually about 196, 197. We are working as hard as we can just to keep up. When we have a wave of retirements, the problem is now that a lot of… with this bad publicity, you know, police… nobody wants to be a policeman. We’ve had an officer actually go through the academy and ready to get sworn in and his family talked him out of being a police officer.
KERN: I think they needed to get involved with the homeless issue quicker. I mean that was the whole thing why hep A kind of exploded, then they finally did that. The problem with government and I’m going to put myself in that same boat is that we’re reactive, you know, we don’t proactively do much. We wait until…, you know, we go wait until the squeaky wheel appears and then we’ll go fix it. Instead of going out there and seeing that there’s a problem and understanding there’s a problem and say, look, we need to get out in front of this before it becomes a crisis. The County waited until it became a crisis to fix it instead of trying to fix something when it was just a problem. I brought the Homeless Outreach Team to Oceanside four years ago. I wish I could say I got out in front of this, but it was actually the squeaky wheel, you know, our Downtown Business Association, Main Street, Oceanside came to me and said, Jerry, we’re having a huge influx of homeless people in downtown Oceanside and for some reason in like October four years ago, we just… inundated. I don’t know what it was, but we just seemed like we got suddenly within a period of a couple months, we’ve got 30, 40 percent more homeless people downtown Oceanside. I… we had some money left over from a grant and Frank McCoy, the police chief, and I said, okay, let’s figure out what the problem is. So we did a survey and we actually went out and tried to survey homeless people and to find out why they’re there and what’s happening. We found that if we can reach people within the first six months of homelessness we can connect them to services. It’s just like you or I, if we became homeless tomorrow and somebody offered you a way out, you would take it. Once you hit that year mark, that becomes your lifestyle and it’s… they know where to get food, they know where to sleep, you know, they become that urban outdoorsman so to speak. But there’s two issues with homelessness. One, the economic homeless is easy to solve, you know, people who want work, the people get them connected. The real chronic homelessness, I do not know if you can solve it and that’s the people with substance abuse and mental illness. Obviously substance abuse is something that if you can get them into treatment and get them cleaned up and get them moving, you can solve that. The mental illness portion, I do not know and basically that goes back to the Reagan administration when they changed the rule and basically, you know, the least restrictive environment instead of having these people in institutions for help. So I don’t know how you reach those people, you know, but that’s one of those services that if we have that reserve, then it probably should deserve some attention how we deal with homeless issue. Not just, let’s build tents and warehouse them for a winter. How do you serve it long term?
KERN: Oh, I’d probably say well over 100, maybe…, you know, because we have… and it’s not just Oceanside, it’s all the coastal cities, you know, I don’t want to be detrimental to Jim Desmond, but Oceanside is a better place to live than San Marcos. So even if you’re homeless it’s a better place to live. We had… and you noticed this last year we really had a problem because, you know, we had a contract with Army Corps to mow the river, the San Luis Rey River. Years ago we started mowing a third, a third, a third, well this last year we mowed that last third of the river, so a lot of those homeless people got pushed out of the riverbed and now they’re in the community. Now they’re in the canyons behind Loma Alta neighborhood and south Oceanside and Henie Hills and Fire Mountain, so my calls of complaints for homelessness has gone up tremendously this last year. Not that we’ve got anymore homeless, but they’re more visible now because we’ve basically taken away their home in the river.
Q: So how have you been dealing with homeless? Have you been arresting, citing people and then arresting people?
KERN: Actually the homeless… actually there’s… in our budget this year we’re adding a social worker to our Homeless Outreach Team, so how that works is that we have a police officer, he gets a call for service, usually down on the beach, the bandshell, wherever they like to sleep and the police officer will come the Homeless Outreach Team. The Homeless Outreach Team will come out, interview the person and then if it… if they can get him or her into… to go to Interfaith for shelter and to move that way and plus now we’re having a social worker talk to them. So we’re addressing the problem, but it’s almost overwhelming. Our Homeless Outreach Team is only two officers and a social worker, so we’re trying to do this one person at a time and hopefully one person at a time we’re making a dent, but I… it’s a tremendous issue here and so, like I said, there’s more problem than solution on that one. And I… and it just continues to grow. Now the economic homeless stuff is growing because housing is so expensive now. The idea that, you know, what is a one bedroom, two bedroom apartment in downtown San Diego now? You know probably…
KERN: I’m not enamored with SANDAG. Transnet One, we’re going to complete the 76, right? So Transnet One, they started to run out of money, well wait a second, you haven’t even started on the 76, okay… oh Transnet Two, that’ll be our top priority, Transnet Two. So Transnet Two passes and then what happens is we’re going to complete the 76, they don’t use Transnet money, they use Recovery Act money from the Obama administration to do the 76. Does that money stay in North County that they were promised? No. It gets sucked back down to San Diego. So we’ve always been the very tail end. We have always been an afterthought for SANDAG down here. We have the only interchange in the state of California with two freeways that are controlled by a stoplight and SANDAG and in their infinite, hey, we’re going to fix this in 2035, you know? But what are we doing? Oh we’re expanding the freeways down south, you know, we’re going through Del Mar and Solana Beach and we’re building wider freeways and they always start from south to move north and by the time they get north, oh, we’ve run out of money. So okay, so we need… mark my word, quote me on this, within four years there will be a Transnet Three, you know, because we just need to build it and they’re going to say, oh, we promise that interchange is going to be done. I don’t believe them. So when we talk about…, you know, we are different in North County, like I said, more people drive, less and less people use public transportation. I was opposed to Measure A, so why if you’re living in Fallbrook should you pay for a bike path around Mission Bay? You know? If you’re going to spend money, spend it on the people that gave you the money. I think my problem was that I think it was like 14 percent was spent in North County. If we’re going to have another Transnet tax, 20 percent has to be set aside for North County at least, you know, that they get their fair share or District 5. So other issues out there, every community is different, there’s 22 communities, you know, 120,000 people, 300,000 voters, 80,000 veterans in North County. We have 22 communities, there’s probably more people in this building than live in Ranchita and it goes up from there and they all have different issues. Borrego Springs’ issue is water. You know they are overdrafting their aquifer out there almost 3 to 1. Their aquifer is rated at 750 acre feet a year, they’re pulling about 1,800 acre feet a year. They’re going to have a real water problem here in the next few years if they keep overdrafting. So I don’t know how that goes, but I was on the Water Authority, but the Water Authority doesn’t cover Borrego Springs. It just covers this side of the mountain, so that’s…
KERN: That’s hard to say, you know, the idea that… I know there’s something at the State Legislature to take these large counties and go from five to seven supervisors. L.A. County is one of those. Maybe they’d be better served to have somebody that’s closer to their interests. I… because, you know, your voice gets lost. I mean the idea that Fallbrook is about 55,000 people in the greater Fallbrook area and they’re unincorporated. You know they’re a city unto them…, they’re larger than Solana Beach, but Solana Beach is incorporated. God knows they’re bigger than Del Mar and their interests are different. You know that’s something… I do not know, but I think probably if you’re going to go to a level of representation, you probably should go to seven supervisors to have somebody representing more of those urban… uh, rural areas out there, so…, but I haven’t thought much about it, but when you bring that up about, you know, are they getting fairly represented, you know, it takes me longer to get to Borrego Springs than it takes me to get down here.
KERN: And then I’ve actually had… meet with a group of people in Warner Springs, you know, their big issue is transportation, you know, they… a lot of retirees out in Warner Springs. They have their mobile home park and in order to get to services, they actually have to take a bus down through Riverside County and back around, so I mean not a much of a direct line. Their county issue and I actually helped solve some of this even… just because I knew Darren [Gretler], Bill Horn’s Chief of Staff, that they were having issues with a shower because they are that way stop on the Pacific Crest Trail and they are having trouble with the regional water quality people about having that shower there for people to shower as they walk up the Pacific Trail. Little issues like that, just those oddball things that come about, so and then I helped people in Rancho Santa Fe on their building because I called the fire marshal because, you know, they were trying to add on to their building, but because of the fire issues in Rancho Santa Fe they had to… they knew they had to sprinkler their new portion of the building, but Fire was wanting them to go back and sprinkler the whole house. So I got the fire people to say, let’s look at this realistically and so they… they did… they brought the new building up to code, their existing house is to code when it was built, so…
Q: One more issue question for you before we kind of throw it to you for a close, I know we got to get out of this…
KERN: I believe that there is climate change happening, you know, being along the coast and seeing what’s happening with sea level rise. That’s one of the things with San Onofre deal we’re talking about planning for sea level rise to do that. I do not know the Climate Action Plan that well. I don’t know why they’re suing, if they’re not strong enough, they’re not doing it correctly, I don’t know what that issue is on the Climate Action Plan. You know Oceanside is going through the same process. We’re doing through the committee system and doing staff and we’re going to come up with our Climate Action Plan and we’ll probably get sued on it because the idea that, you know, we’re probably going to offend somebody or somebody doesn’t say we go far enough in stopping cars or whatever, so I think that’s one of these things that again we all need to work towards a solution instead of yelling at each other, saying you’re doing it wrong, so…
KERN: Quite frankly I think I’m the best qualified. The idea of coming from the largest full service city in North County, you know, having to deal with police and fire negotiations and public servant… or public safety negotiations. Having our own water department that I’ve dealt with, having a harbor. I testified in front of the Coastal Commission probably four or five times, the Lands Commission, worked hard on the Poseidon project to do that. I’ve been up to the FAA in L.A. about our airport. So all of those issues that the County faces, I have faced, so I… my other… all three of my other opponents have… do not have the background that I have, you know, Desmond does not have a police force. Yeah, he just writes a check to the Sheriff. He’s not in negotiations with them, he hasn’t had to face them across the table. He… they don’t have their own water department. They just… Olivenhain does their… or Vallecitos does their water for them. So all of those issues that I have dealt with over the last 12 years I’d like to deal with at the County that he’s never had to deal with.April 29, 2018