OCEANSIDE — A coalition of North County police officers, sheriff's deputies and firefighters Monday announced it will support attorney Clyde Romney in the race for San Diego County supervisor in the 5th District.
The group, which represents county deputies, police officers from Oceanside, Carlsbad and Escondido, and Oceanside firefighters, said Romney is a clear choice over his opponent, Oceanside Councilman John MacDonald.
Roy Stamper, president of county Deputy Sheriff's Assn., said the North County Law Enforcement Coalition chose Romney after 10 panelists held hourlong interviews with each of the two candidates two weeks ago.
"We had no doubt whatsoever that our choice was Clyde Romney," said Stamper, a sergeant at the County Jail in Chula Vista. "Clyde Romney knew what our problems were. He knew about the individual needs of each of the cities. . . . We're going to be out there working from today on."
Stamper said he believes that Romney will be more open than MacDonald to the concerns of the rank-and-file law enforcement community, pointing out that Oceanside is currently 25 police officers short of nationwide standards.
Ed Selby, president of the Oceanside Police Officers Assn., said the panelists were struck by the "radical differences" between the two candidates. He said Romney was "clear-sighted, anxious and animated."
"Mr. MacDonald was pale by comparison," Selby said. "We were struck by the lack of interest on Mr. MacDonald's part in our endorsement and our support."
MacDonald said later Monday that he valued the law enforcement endorsement but that he was uncomfortable during his interview with the group because his city was in the midst of contract negotiations with its police officers.
"I don't think some of the members of the group agreed with my philosophy that management should do the negotiating without interference by council members," MacDonald said. "Apparently the group felt that I was closed, and that's not the case at all."
Romney, nevertheless, said the endorsement makes him "the law enforcement candidate"--a tag he can be expected to repeat often throughout the fall campaign in the conservative North County district, which stretches from Encinitas to the Orange County line on the coast and inland to Imperial County.
"With the concerns I hear constantly from our senior citizens and people living in the rural areas, law enforcement is one of their top priorities," he said.
Stamper said the coalition's 3,000 members will be encouraged to donate money and time to Romney's effort. He said the Deputy Sheriff's Assn. could allocate as much as $70,000 for independent campaign expenditures on Romney's behalf.
The coalition's political action committee is prohibited by state law from making direct contributions to Romney's campaign.