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This post begins what I hope will become a tradition with my stories here at voiceofsandiego.org.

Instead of adding another 500 words or so to my 1,500-word opuses on various political issues, I plan to follow up my stories with blog posts of interesting items that for assorted reasons didn’t make it into my main piece. I’m going to call it, “Emptying the Notebook.”

Fortunately, I can start this idea with lots of information on the 2010 county supervisor elections.

First, I had good conversations with District 4 Supervisor Ron Roberts and State Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, who will be facing off next summer. I gathered an important campaign talking point could be the county’s social service policies.

Unprompted, Roberts brought what the county has done for childhood obesity, children’s healthcare and foster children among his accomplishments. On complaints that the county should be doing more, Roberts replied, “Sometimes people get carried away with their rhetoric and don’t do their homework.”

Saldaña hammered away at what she said was the county’s insufficient social policies, saying the county needed someone who put more emphasis, and money, on issues like health care. The county, she said, wrongly is emphasizing, “smaller government at a time of increasing need.” She added she’s heard complaints from numerous social service agencies that receive county funds that the county isn’t doing enough.

Two other Saldaña tidbits. She said she recognizes the frustration that has brought about an organized labor-backed drive for supervisor term limits, but called term limits “a short-term mentality.” Termed-out from the state Assembly herself, Saldaña said elections should decide when a politician ends their tenure. Saldaña also has faced questions about her recent move into Roberts’ district. The move, she said, was long planned and is to a more eco-friendly development than her previous home. But yes, she said, part of the reason she moved was to run for Roberts’ seat.

Consultants and experts from across the political spectrum spoke to the rising influence of “decline to states” on voter rolls. Naturally, all sides wanted to claim them for their own. But everyone is right to discuss their increased importance.

Some quick math: In San Diego County, voters who declined to state their political preference jumped from 20.5 percent in 2004 to 23.2 percent this year. Over the same time, decline to staters increased by 2.3 percent in Roberts’ district and 3 percent in Horn’s district, the two districts with campaigns next year.

— LIAM DILLON

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