Dave Roberts, 3rd District Supervisor, has been called the energizer who gives the Energizer Bunny lessons. If you look at his schedule you might be convinced that he has an identical twin.
Look at his Fitbit and you’ll find a man who logs in sometimes 12,000 steps a day, possibly leaving the Energizer Bunny in his dust. He gets up at 4:30 each day and walks 5,000 of those steps before breakfast.
You’ll find him constantly on the move, meeting with constituents, with other public officials, even delivering meals on wheels to seniors. He often has a dozen meetings a day on his schedule.
“I have a very high passion and energy level,” he said.
Recently a group of supporters who included Escondido Republicans, held a reception for him in which they remarked that they liked their mayor, Sam Abed, a Republican and liked their 3rd District Supervisor, Dave Roberts, a Democrat, and wanted to keep both in their current jobs for the moment.
“We don’t see you as a Republican or a Democrat, we want you to stay as supervisor,” they told him.
Roberts, who has been on the board for three and a half years, is in a tough reelection campaign. Challengers Abed and Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar both smell blood in the water due to the embarrassing situation where Roberts’ fellow board members voted to pay $310,000 in “hostile work environment” claims by three ex-employees. His fellow supervisors issued a statement criticizing their colleague for “a hostile work environment, an alleged bribe, campaigning on county time, improper use of a county vehicle, and retaliation against District 3 staff members.”
Roberts, when asked to comment about these issues, told The Times- Advocate: “Last year I had personnel issues in my office. I took responsibility for those issues and took action to resolve them. I am running for reelection because we are providing real solutions to solving real problems.”
He adds, “I think this election will be decided on how each candidate addresses the issues. Voters want clean air, clean water, parks, trails and open spaces and a fiscally responsible government that solves problems.”
He points to the fact that San Diego County is one of 3,089 counties in the U.S., of which only six have a Triple AAA credit rating. “We first achieved that in 2013, the year I joined the board and we just achieved that again for 2016. My colleagues and I are fiscally responsible with the taxpayers’ dollars,” he said.
He points to the special attention that he has paid to the city of Escondido, “working collaboratively with the Chamber of Commerce and non- profits to solve Escondido problems.”
He is working with the city on a city- county collaboration to bring about El Caballo Park, a park that would be located at 3410 Valley Center Rd. It is adjacent to Daley Ranch, the Escondido Humane Society, The Escondido Water Treatment plant, the Eureka Springs development, and East Valley Parkway.
“We are going to build a park with trails for hiking and horseback riding. I have been working on what kind of park it will be. This park would be a great asset for Escondido and the whole region,” he said.
Parks and open spaces are his passion. Last year he was at a dedication of improvements at Escondido’s Felicita Park, where the County added amenities to make it attractive as a wedding venue. “When I first became a supervisor they asked me for a list of projects that enhanced the quality of life. That was one that we identified,” he said.
Noting that he has about 650,000 people and many communities in his district, Roberts is constantly working with those communities to build amenities and expand open space. He points to projects in Rancho Bernardo, Mira Mesa, Encinitas, etc. where he has been involved in creating parks or helping to save them.
He considers one of his biggest success stories the extension last April by another 50 years of the 25-year multiagency joint powers agreement (JPA) between the County and the cities along the San Dieguito River Valley. The land extends from the beach in Del Mar to where the river is born on Volcan Mountain in Julian. The park has 65 miles of trails, including the yet to be completed Coast to Crest Trail. Roberts represents the Board of Supervisors on the JPA board.
“When the 1989 agreement expired San Diego pulled out,” said Roberts. “I got them to agree to a fifty year extension. Some people refer to that park as the Yosemite of Southern California. We are extending miles of trails. The goal is to extend the whole trail system so that you can go from one end of the county to the other.”
Another success story has been Roberts’s promotion of programs, such as HERO (Home Energy Renovation Opportunity) a PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing program, the county makes available to provide homeowners the means to buy and install energy efficient and water saving upgrades.
The Board of Supervisor’s 2014 approval of HERO was spearheaded by Roberts and Dianne Jacob when she was board president. In fact, bringing a residential PACE Program to San Diego was one issue that motivated Roberts to run for office.
Roberts notes that many homeowners are able to spread their payments for these upgrades over 20 years. He credits PACE with helping to reduce greenhouse gases and creating jobs “This alone has created 5,000 new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity in our county,” he said.
A completely different kind of PACE (Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement) program that Roberts and Jacob helped initiate promotes long term preservation of agriculture in the County through the purchase of development rights from willing owners. Farm owners are compensated for putting a permanent open space easement on the their ag property that limits future uses and prevents future development.
“This became part of the County’s General Plan,” said Roberts. “So far we have set aside 1,200 acres. Every year we call for interested sellers. If they promise to remain undeveloped we pay them a fee. This preserves open space.”
He also worked with San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer to reestablish this county as a preferred venue for filmmakers by creating a Film Office for San Diego County. “The film industry was once a major industry in San Diego but it was largely shut down” due to regulatory issues, he said. Filmmakers approached Roberts to fix this problem and he was happy to lend his support. He expects the film office to open this year.
He has worked with Supervisor Bill Horn to open two crisis stabilization centers in North County. Last year the North Inland Live Well Center opened in Escondido, providing one-stop client services and in 2016 the county Health and Human Services Agency will open a regional, crisis stabilization center in Escondido on East Valley Parkway.
“One reason that Bill likes working with me and I like working with him is that I put an emphasis on Escondido,” said Roberts. He notes that this is the first time ever that a supervisor has opened a community office in Escondido (located at the Escondido Chamber of Commerce office at 720 N Broadway).
Last year the Family Resource Center – North Inland opened on Mission Avenue in Escondido. “It’s a big success story,” said Roberts. “It provides one stop shopping for veterans, child protective services, CalFresh, Medi-Cal,” and a host other social services.
“My greatest success in the district and in Escondido has been saving the Palomar Forensic Health Center that is run by Palomar Health.” He was asked to prevent the closure of the center, which provides compassionate care for victims of rape and domestic abuse and also collects DNA for prosecution.
Roberts called together a summit that included Supervisor Horn, Sheriff Gore, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and representatives from Palomar Health.
“We held a meeting and we all agreed to keep it open,” he said. Soon they will be holding a ribbon cutting for a new location for the center.
This points to Roberts’s strong suit, and another factor that got him to run for the Board of Supervisors in the first place, his coalition building.
Roberts compares his own experience in government to his opponents. “I’m the only candidate with an MA in financial management. I’ve worked at all levels of government.” He worked for both the Bush and Obama administrations in the Department of Health & Human Services. He was an aide to U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker and worked for the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. “I had a role in creating the TRICARE Military Healthcare system,” he recalls.
In November Roberts was elected first vice president of the California State Assn. of Counties and will become its president this November after re-election. “In this job I will be able to promote the San Diego success story,” he said. In that role he has met with Governor Jerry Brown and discussed San Diego issues. He was also elected to the National Assn. of Counties, one of two supervisors from California. “I’m so pleased to represent the county of San Diego at the state and federal levels. I look forward to helping set the advocacy agenda for our county and others across the state and nation,” he said.
In this function he just met with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein to discuss issues relating to San Diego.
Roberts, who has six foster children, was prompted to enter politics because he wanted to make it easier for people interested in adopting foster children to maneuver through the system. “When I saw how hard it was to deal with the county system if you were a foster parent I wanted to do something about it,” he recalls.
He’s been involved in politics ever since.