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Vista Mayor John Franklin, left, and San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones. Courtesy images
Vista Mayor John Franklin, left, and San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones. Courtesy images
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Two North County mayors emerge as 2026 supervisor candidates

REGION — Two North County mayors have set their sights on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors for the 2026 election in hopes of making changes at the county level.  

While many voters are looking ahead just to this year’s election, Vista Mayor John Franklin and San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones are getting an early start on their campaigns for the District 5 Supervisor seat in a couple of years.

Jones launched her campaign last month, while Franklin hit the ground running in late 2023, amassing over $400,000 in contributions since, according to campaign filings. 

Current District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond will be termed out and unable to run in 2026, opening up the seat representing Escondido, Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, Camp Pendleton and the rest of the county’s northern communities.

Both Jones and Franklin have praised Desmond for his leadership and legacy.

“One of the reasons I feel compelled to run is because [Desmond] has done such a great job, and since we can’t keep him, we need a great leader, a common sense leader to follow him. And I think I’m the right person for that job,” Franklin said. 

Currently, in his first term as Vista’s mayor and his tenth year on the City Council, Franklin said his priorities for the Board of Supervisors are a return to law and order, fiscal responsibility and better mental health and addiction resources, particularly for those who are homeless. 

Franklin criticized what he said was a lack of attention to misdemeanor crimes and said the county should rely on jailing more perpetrators of lesser crimes as a form of deterrence. 

“We are demonstrating to people that we are not serious about enforcing our laws. This is something the county has serious power over,” Franklin said. “The criminal justice experiment needs to come to an end… We’ve got to fight for the restoration of law and order.” 

He also said that he would like to see more county funds allocated toward essential government functions, including law enforcement, before spending money on hiring additional personnel that may not serve a crucial function. 

Franklin also said he believes that addiction is a major contributor to homelessness and that addiction and mental health issues should be treated before they manifest as criminal behavior. 

He said that jails are not the primary place where people should be receiving mental health treatment, mainly due to the lack of available beds, and said he would like to see the county find safer and more humane ways to treat individuals who are detoxing due to the high number of jail deaths. 

Franklin said that addressing these and other issues in jails is also necessary for restoring public trust.

Jones, who has served on the San Marcos City Council since 2007 and as mayor since 2018, said she is ready to take over from Desmond, who preceded her as mayor. 

“When I finish this term that I’m in, I will have served San Marcos for 20 years. It’s been such an incredible career for me,” Jones said. “Spreading what I’ve done here in San Marcos and bringing it to the county level is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.” 

As a supervisor, Jones said she would advocate for affordable housing as a key aspect of preventing homelessness in San Diego County. She noted that the city of San Marcos has designated over 7% of its housing stock as deed-restricted. 

“I want to see other North County cities really focus on that. I think keeping people housed as much as possible with that deed-restricted affordability is really important to keeping them from becoming homeless in the first place,” Jones said. 

When it comes to the county helping people with mental health issues, Jones said services should be more streamlined to prevent taxpayer money from being wasted. Some individuals need more specialized attention than others, and she said the county should be a leader in thinking of new and innovative solutions to meet people’s individual needs.

She also echoed Franklin’s concerns about fiscal responsibility in the county, stating that she wants to see the county running as efficiently as possible and using taxpayer dollars wisely. 

The San Marcos mayor also said there needs to be a greater focus on collaboration between law enforcement agencies, especially in emergencies such as wildfires and floods. 

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