Four candidates vying for two positions on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors mouth one word when asked to name the most pressing issue in a region coping with booming growth, increasing joblessness and taxation that threatens to soar higher each year.
Budget, they say. We've got to do something about the budget.
If elected, they would preside over funds of almost $2 billion, which still falls short of providing all of the services to which county residents have grown accustomed. The four cite jobs, crime and a sluggish economy as among their constituents' most vexing worries.
But aside from unanimity on these issues, differences abound in District 3, where six-year San Diego City Councilwoman Judy McCarty is running against Encinitas Councilwoman Pam Slater, and in District 2, where Santee Mayor Jack Doyle is up against former supervisors' aide Dianne Jacob.
Slater and McCarty face the daunting task of reaching more than 318,000 registered voters in a district that encompasses the county's midsection, from Carlsbad to Mission Beach along the coast and east to San Carlos and Rancho Bernardo.
McCarty, a 52-year-old Republican who lives in San Carlos, is campaigning on her record as a second-term councilwoman with a pro-business, pro-development record.
Her environmental record is mixed. A leading advocate of curbside recycling, she also has led the effort to eliminate products with chlorofluorocarbons, which damage the ozone.
But she supported the SANDER trash-burning incinerator and a toxic-waste incinerator in La Jolla and aroused the ire of environmentalists by successfully leading the drive for the extension of Jackson Drive through Mission Trails Regional Park. The decision was later reversed.
Slater's campaign signs--her name etched in white on a green background, punctuated by a green tree--have been carefully chosen. She's running as the environmentalist candidate, with the full backing of the Sierra Club, which McCarty has called extremist.
Slater, 44, and a Republican, boasts of having successfully fought a trash incinerator near Encinitas and accuses McCarty of waffling on the issue of trash-burning. Slater says McCarty now opposes the process, despite having once supported San Diego's proposed trash-to-energy plant.
McCarty says she doesn't support trash-burning and in the past merely called for a vote of the public on the issue, before the decision was made to abandon the project.
McCarty sees the economy as the worst problem for the county and the country and points a finger at the Board of Supervisors for contributing to deepening stagnation.
McCarty said she would eliminate various programs, boards and commissions in county government and reduce "all" departments. She would vote for layoffs "if necessary."
Slater is advocating a "comprehensive, independent, outside audit" of county government as a prelude to making "significant cuts without cutting services."
McCarty and Slater seek the seat of Susan Golding, who's resigning to run for mayor of San Diego.
In District 2, Jacob seeks the seat of her former boss, George Bailey, who's retiring. Jacob, a Republican, is opposed by Doyle, a Democrat. The race is nonpartisan.
District 2 is enormous--home to 503,000 urban and rural residents in such places as El Cajon, La Mesa, Poway, Santee, Ramona and Jamul. Jacobs says she's an "outsider running with an insider's knowledge," based on her seven-year tenure as Bailey's chief of staff.
Jacob, 53, has issued a proposal claiming she can save $50 million to $100 million by limiting employee salaries, cutting the salaries of top administrators and supervisors themselves and reforming the welfare system.
Doyle, 40, says he has helped to bring more than 8,000 new jobs to Santee during his eight years in office. He says the city has seen the opening of a new Price Club and Walmart store and is negotiating for a Kaiser Permanente facility.
Doyle is supported by the East County Small Business Assn., but his opponent has the endorsement of the pro-business Political Action Committee of the Santee Chamber of Commerce.
Occupation: Encinitas councilwoman
Birthplace: Meridian, Tex.
Residence: Encinitas Judy McCarty
Occupation: San Diego councilwoman
Birthplace: Hammond, Ind.
Residence: San Diego (San Carlos) Jack Doyle
Occupation: Mayor of Santee, systems analyst
Residence: Santee Dianne Jacob
Occupation: Businesswoman, educator, 17-year member Jamul-Dulzura School District board
Birthplace: San Diego