Lawson-Remer sworn into SD County Board of Supervisors

San Diego County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer took the oath of office in a virtual ceremony on Jan. 4.
(Karen Billing)

Representing a “new day” for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, Terra Lawson-Remer was sworn into her new seat at a virtual ceremony on Jan. 4. Lawson-Remer said she was ready to meet the task of improving the lives of all San Diegans: “We face historic challenges and we have historic ambition to match. We have a lot of work ahead and I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get started.”

Lawson-Remer, 42, represents District 3 which includes Encinitas, Carmel Valley, Del Mar and Solana Beach. An Encinitas resident and third-generation San Diegan, she defeated the incumbent Kristin Gaspar in the November election. She is an economist and attorney who was a former senior advisor in the Obama administration.

“Our generation faces existential challenges,” Lawson-Remer said. “A pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands and driven countless others into poverty, destroying businesses and jobs and dreams, driving suicide and despair and stranding our children in social and academic limbo including my 18-month-old daughter who has spent nearly half her life secluded, struggling with a communication learning disability that cannot be addressed under the social isolation of COVID-19.”

“Despite the challenges we face and the adversities of this past year, I am hopeful,” she said.

Lawson-Remer said her priorities include tackling the climate crisis by pivoting toward a green future and zero carbon economy, addressing homelessness and affordable housing, reducing traffic with modern transportation networks, protecting beaches and coastlines from pollution and over-development and preserving open space.

Lawson-Remer said she would like to see the county take an “evidence-based” approach to COVID-19 by rolling out vaccines, scaling up testing and providing a lifeline to small businesses those who have lost their jobs. She also hopes to safeguard communities from wildfires, provide better access to affordable childcare, expand mental and behavioral health services, support the arts and take meaningful actions on racial injustice.

“California is the fifth-largest economy in the world and we can lead the way in responding to the urgent challenges of our time. And San Diego County, as the second-largest county in California, can lead our state,” Lawson-Remer said. “I’m excited to move an ambitious agenda, both to address immense challenges our community faces and also because we have the opportunity and responsibility to provide an example and a path to the rest of the state and the country.”

At the board’s meeting on Jan. 5, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher was selected as the new chair of the board and new supervisors Nora Vargas as vice chair and Joel Anderson as pro-tem chair.

The new board make-up represents a transition to a new era. In district one, Vargas replaces Greg Cox, who had served since 1995. Vargas is the first woman of color and first Latina to serve on the board. Anderson is taking over the seat that was held by Dianne Jacob since 1992, the longest-serving board member in San Diego County government history.

While the county board of supervisors is nonpartisan, the board has been controlled by a conservative majority for many years.

“Times change and now the voters have elected a new group of more progressive supervisors and we will govern consistent with our values,” Fletcher said.

At the organizational board meeting, Supervisor Jim Desmond was disappointed with Fletcher’s supervisor committee assignments which he felt were not equitable—of the 65 positions to fill, he received only seven.

“We should not have a divisive start on day one,” said Desmond.

After Vargas and Lawson-Remer declined to switch committee assignments, Desmond swapped with Anderson to be able to serve on the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) and Multiple Species Conservation Program North County committees.