Statement: “We’re the only (California) county to receive this funding and it was the largest grant in the United States,” Supervisor Ron Roberts, running for reelection this fall, said during a candidates’ debate Oct. 6.
Analysis: Earlier this year, San Diego County came under public scrutiny for turning down federal stimulus money aimed at creating jobs. Most urban counties in the state applied for the stimulus money and raked in millions for unemployed, low-income residents. One advocacy group estimated that the county missed out on between $11 million and $18 million.
Stephen Whitburn, a community health educator vying to unseat Supervisor Ron Roberts, has aimed to capitalize on the lost funding along the campaign trail. He highlighted the stimulus funding in a recent debate with Roberts hosted by the local chapter of the NAACP.
“I will ensure that we work very hard to get our fair share of millions of dollars into our local economy to create local jobs,” Whitburn said. “It’s outrageous that they didn’t do that.”
Roberts said county staff “made an error” by not applying for the stimulus money and said the supervisors have talked with county staff to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
At the same time, he touted winning other funds that would boost the local economy, a $25 million grant spread over the next five years with the San Diego Workforce Partnership.
The grant aims at helping low-income adults land jobs in the health care industries by paying for their training, transportation or child-care needs.
And in fact, Roberts accurately described how the grant compares to others for the same program across the nation. The San Diego Workforce Partnership and the county received the only grant in California and it was the largest single grant in the country. San Diego will receive $5 million annually. The next closest recipient — a community college in New Jersey — will get $4.6 million annually.
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