From the front of the room, Stephen Whitburn, candidate for District 4 county supervisor, introduced himself to the 30 residents sitting inside the Joyce Beers Community Center in Hillcrest during a May 11 county supervisor forum organized by the Hillcrest Town Council.
It was less of a forum and more of a one-man show. Whitburn was the only candidate present from district four, a territory that stretches from University City to Paradise Hills and from Interstate 5 to the College Area. His four opponents, school board member Shelia Jackson, affordable housing proponent Juan Del Rio, retired teacher Margaret Moody, and four-term incumbent Ron Roberts, were no-shows.
Whitburn, a former journalist and current community activist, took the opportunity to denounce Roberts, as well as the four other supervisors, for what Whitburn feels is a poor record dealing with the county's poorest citizens, for their support of large-scale development, and for lacking focus on public safety.
"The federal government recently cited San Diego County among the worst in the nation in providing food stamps to those eligible," said Whitburn before stating his opposition to the county's policy of fingerprinting "elderly, disabled, and blind" residents applying for food stamps and other welfare benefits.
After mentioning his opponents' support of the Merriam Mountain development proposed outside of Escondido, Whitburn attacked the current supervisors for what he considers a low level of public safety in San Diego County.
"The county does not have a fire department. San Diego County needs to step up to the plate and take responsibility for providing protection from fires in the backcountry."
While taking questions from the audience, Whitburn gave assurances that, if elected, he would not accept gifts nor would he allocate money from "slush funds" to outside organizations. As an example, he cited "six free trips" to China that the San Diego World Trade Center sent Ron Roberts on after the supervisor had donated $854,000 of taxpayer money to that organization.
"That just doesn't look right to me," said Whitburn.
The election will be held on June 8.