County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer says she is ‘excited’ to have Rancho Santa Fe in her District
County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer is welcoming new constituents to her supervisorial district even as she bids farewell to those she will no longer directly represent.
Lawson-Remer, who was elected to the county Board of Supervisors in November 2020, had been on the job about a year when her District 3 territory was redrawn in December due to the redistricting effort that takes place across the country every 10 years, following completion of the U.S. Census.
In San Diego County, that means districts are redrawn at all governmental levels, from city councils and school boards to state legislative and Congressional districts. The purpose is to balance the population of the districts, which may have shifted over the past 10 years, but also considering such factors as racial and ethnic minorities and preservation of neighborhoods.
In Lawson-Remer’s case, her 3rd Supervisorial District gained Rancho Santa Fe and lost the city of Escondido, forming a mostly coastal district from Carlsbad to Coronado. The inland communities of Mira Mesa and Rancho Penasquitos are also included.
“I’m so excited to have Rancho Santa Fe in my district,” said Lawson-Remer, an attorney and economist who previously worked as an advisor in the Obama Administration. A Democrat, Lawson-Remer is part of the first Democratic majority on the board of supervisors in decades.
Lawson-Remer said she considers it a privilege to serve both her old and new districts, and that both territories have more in common than they have differences.
While Rancho Santa Fe has most recently been part of District 5, now represented by Supervisor Jim Desmond, before 2001 the Ranch was represented by District 3 Supervisor Pam Slater-Price. In 2001, following the 2000 census, a 4-1 board majority – with Slater-Price opposed - moved Rancho Santa Fe to Supervisor Bill Horn’s District 5, and added Escondido to Slater-Price’s district. The new district map reverses those changes.
An avid bicyclist, Lawson-Remer said she has long included Rancho Santa Fe on her bike rides from her home in Encinitas, so she is familiar with the area.
Supervisors played a limited role in establishing the new district boundaries. Although in the past the board of supervisors controlled the redistricting process and voted on the final maps, this year for the first time an independent redistricting commission oversaw the process.
For her part, Lawson-Remer said she had no agenda for the redistricting effort other than to encourage public participation.
She said she has not focused on the changes to party affiliation between her old and new districts. “I’m here to serve the whole community regardless of party,” she said.
According to statistics provided by the county Registrar of Voters office, overall the 3rd District gained about 25,000 registered voters, from 398,000 to 423,000, between 2011 and 2021.
Only marginal changes were seen in District 3 political affiliation over the past decade: Democratic registration ticked up to 40 percent from 39 percent, Republican registration dropped from 27 to 26 percent, and “declined to state” remained steady at 26 percent.
Her message for Rancho Santa Fe and the other communities she represents, said Lawson-Remer, is that she and her staff are available to help. “My door is always open,” she said.
Lawson-Remer said she came into office with a mandate from voters to protect the coastline, beaches and open space, and she is working to fulfill that directive by focusing on climate initiatives, whether it’s responding to devastating wildfires, improving air quality, managing the effects of sea level rise, or finding a safe place to store nuclear waste from the former San Onofre nuclear power plant.
She’s also working to change the county’s approach to dealing with homelessness. “For too long we’ve used jails as a frontline response to the homelessness crisis,” she said.
As an example, she cited a joint proposal by herself and Supervisor Joel Anderson, which was supported by the full board, to provide a small cash subsidy to seniors at risk of becoming homeless, as a way of keeping those seniors in their homes and off the streets. Such a program would be cheaper than housing seniors in an emergency shelter, she said.
Changing the county’s approach on key issues will take time, Lawson-Remer said, because for years, previous boards discouraged innovation and placed a priority on saving money. The new board, she said, is guiding the county in a direction that hasn’t been seen in generations.
When she’s not debating policy prescriptions, Lawson-Remer, the mother of a 2-year-old daughter, loves spending time outdoors, whether it’s surfing, hiking or bike-riding. She also enjoys dining at Rancho Santa Fe’s Mille Fleurs on special occasions.
Much of her time during her first year in office has been spent learning about her constituents.
“It’s been great getting to know and understand my constituents, being out in the community and finding out how to be helpful,” she said. “There’s so much we can do to serve the community better, we discover new ways to work together every day.”