Kristin Gaspar stunned insiders in 2016 when she defeated an incumbent Supervisor, something that hadn’t been done in three decades. From her first vote on the Board of Supervisors she established herself as an independent voice unwilling to “go-along-to-get-along” with four colleagues who’d been on the Board since the early 90’s.
“The first vote was a pay raise and pension increase for the Board, but not County employees,” said Gaspar. “I have to admit I was shocked at the self-serving nature of it. My colleagues put a lot of pressure on me, but it wasn’t very hard to vote no.”
That first vote told Gaspar a lot about the culture at the County. For too many years, important issues were ignored while comfortable incumbents counted the days until their forced retirement, focused only on their pet projects.
“San Diego has a lot of very serious problems that are only getting worse,” said Gaspar. “If we are going to make a difference, we must end business-as-usual.”
Gaspar has focused on some of the most complicated and often intertwined issues: mental health, addiction, homelessness, and juvenile justice reform.
“Sadly, these aren’t the issues that attract media attention and not something you do a press conference about, but it is this work that makes a difference in our community,” said Gaspar.
While San Diego has seen a minor decrease in regional homelessness, many of those living on the street suffer from mental illness. Gaspar worked with officials at Tri-City Medical Center to negotiate a ground-breaking new psychiatric facility which added beds and opened up new treatment opportunities. Mental health advocate Liz Kruidenier called it, “An innovation that seems to have literally changed the landscape on mental health.”
Gaspar travelled the country to see first-hand the innovative, results-based programs helping people on the margins. Visits to Las Vegas, New York City, Washington, DC, Salt Lake City, Austin, Texas, and Orange County opened her eyes to different ways of doing things than the one-size-fits-all programs government typically adopts.
One of those programs is The Other Side Academy based in Salt Lake City. She was so impressed with the program’s ability to help criminals, homeless, and substance abusers change their lives that she launched the program here in San Diego.
The comprehensive two-year residential program offers vocational training, education, peer counseling and mentoring, leadership training and transitional services.
Another area important to her, particularly as a mother of three, is juvenile justice reform. Gaspar established Achievement Centers, safely and effectively providing alternatives for at-risk youth with structure and accountability, and a focus on academic assistance, literacy, and career and technical education pathways.
She’s drawn criticism from her willingness to work with the Trump Administration but she says that’s part of the job. “I don’t have the luxury of only working with popular elected leaders. If we are going to get good results for all San Diegans, it’s my job to work with everyone.”
Her work has attracted a broad coalition of endorsements.
In addition to the Regional Chamber of Commerce, North County and Greater San Diego Realtors, Restaurant Association, she’s been endorsed by the Latino American Political Association, Asian Americans for Equality, the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, the County Probation Officers, and County Firefighters (CAL FIRE).
Paid for by Committee to elect Gaspar. FPPC #1396368.