Escondido, CA
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9 mayors walk out of SANDAG—Escondido’s among them

At Friday’s meeting of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) board meeting nine mayors stalked out of the meeting because they object to the weighted voting system that basically puts most decision-making on transportation funds in San Diego County into the hands of the City of San Diego. 

The city of Escondido has been without representation on the regional board for more than a year since the previous mayor, Paul McNamara, was removed as the city’s representative by the city council. A 2-2 vote split kept a replacement from being named. This was the new mayor, Dane White’s, first meeting. It quickly devolved into a walkout by nine mainly North County, and mainly Republican mayors, objecting to the weighted vote system that largely negates their influence.  

Smaller cities, such as Escondido, object to transportation policies that lean heavily into public transportation and discouraging people from driving as much through the employment of a mileage tax.

The current weighted voted scheme was created by legislation crafted in 2017 by then Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.

The city representatives who walked out Friday included Escondido, San Marcos, Vista, Oceanside, Coronado, Del Mar and Poway.

Mayor White issued this statement about the walkout: “I represent the 4th largest city in San Diego County. Along side the 3rd largest city and 7 other agencies I walked out in protest to the immediate use of the weighted vote to overrule the majority vote to place a more moderate Democrat in the position of 2nd Vice Chair. When 2 or 3 agencies can overrule the remaining 16 or 17 agencies this creates an imbalance that hurts some of the most marginalized communities within the county. My residents deserve to be heard and represented equally with the rest. This is unrepresentative, unequitable and I will continue to fight for equal representation for my community.”

Sometimes the board takes votes where each city’s representative is equal to all the other representatives. But sometimes, as in the case of the votes on Friday confirming the new chairman and vice chairman, the votes were weighted, giving San Diego an overwhelming influence.

The vote enthroned County Board of Supervisors Chairman Nora Vargas and San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera were elected chairman and vice chairman respectively.

“What that told us was that all the speeches about ‘collaboration’ were BS,” White told The Times-Advocate in a separate interview on Monday. “It’s become clear that Republicans get no committee assignments. You fall in with what the chairman and vice chairman want or you get nothing. Even when you fall in line, Escondido is going to get nothing. North County and Escondido are being short-changed.”

White added that the new SANDAG transportation plan, which calls for an expenditure of $160 billion that would expand public transportation, “doesn’t do anything to improve the quality of life,” for Escondido residents.

Just because he walked out of Friday’s SANDAG meeting doesn’t mean that he doesn’t intend to be there at future meetings. “I will very much be there and do whatever I can to get them to wake up to reality,” said White.

10 responses to “9 mayors walk out of SANDAG—Escondido’s among them”

  1. Paul Trzinski says:

    Hello Dane,
    Good to know you some fight in you regarding these antiquated methods they use to split up $160B and we here in Escondido get nothing. Maybe we should fight fire with fire and establish a grid lock consortium of the 9 mayors who walked out and come up with a scenario that blocks the city of San Diego of moving any of these funds unless they get a 5 out of 9 mayors in agreement. I don’t believe they(San Diego politicians) will do anything except to pad their needs and don’t give anything else a penny. So, play hardball if you see a legal way as to where you can isolate the city of San Diego. Jeff Epp who is a good friend of mine may agree to help. Nobody said this job would be easy.

    Best regards,


  2. William Kerr says:

    Outstanding we are so glad we voted for Mr. White.
    Fair! Make it fair for all or not at all.

  3. Troy says:

    Thank you, the mayor’s of North County for not succumbing to the city and there agenda. I do not favor a milage tax on how I drive and adamantly oppose. I may not live in the city of San Diego but an just as much a part of San Diego being in North county.

  4. Jeff Coniglio says:

    Defend and disband existing corrupt SANDAG!

  5. Chris Freeman says:

    The headline says 9 mayors walked out, but not every city representative is a mayor.

  6. Mike Stein says:

    Well stated Mr. Mayor. This was a big reason for your election over the previous Mayor!

  7. Mary Bradley says:

    As a resident of Ramona, I agree with the walkout. This isn’t fair to the smaller communities. I am also totally opposed to the mileage tax too. There is no public transportation for many of us in the more rural areas. We already pay enough just filling our gas tanks.

  8. William Martin says:

    Is there any way to force SANDAG to lay out how they intend to monitor/enforce collecting this “double-tax” road usage fee? It seems there ought to be ways to tie them up in legal proceedings “forever”, if that is what it takes to stop this high-handed behavior. For example, data regarding my movements should be my property, not theirs for free to take. But first one has to know how the plan is supposed to work, in order to mount an effective opposition!

  9. Chris says:

    That’s shameful, White was elected to do a job, not throw a temper tantrum. His view on public transportation is wrong. The reason people in Escondido don’t use public transportation is because it isn’t as readily available as it could be. Maybe working with your peers and learning to govern is what White should be doing? The “tough guy” act is old and played out. Just do your job and don’t cry about it White!

  10. William says:

    Mr. Mayor White you were elected by a slim majority here in Escondido, instead of throwing a fit do your job. The reason a majority of Escondido residents try to avoid public transportation is due to the increase in homelessness around public transportation areas since you have taken office. Maybe step it up and do what you were elected to do & fight for our community by allocating and supporting funding for our streets and cleaning up our communities and building infrastructure for our public sector then maybe we will consider not holding a Recall against incompetent Mayor Dane White. Do your job

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