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Kristin Gaspar

Edgy Interview: Kristin Gaspar

Google “hard worker” and Kristin Gaspar’s picture should pop up. She is the first in her family to graduate college, working two restaurant jobs to pay her way through the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism Arizona State University. Gaspar is the youngest woman ever elected to San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors, unseating an incumbent in the process! Before that, she served on the Encinitas City Council, then became that city’s first elected Mayor. Not enough? Gaspar was the CFO of very successful Gaspar Physical Therapy and now serves as Vice President, Philanthropy, for the Palomar Health Foundation, the largest healthcare district in the State of California. Just as important, Kristin’s my friend and I hope you enjoy reading her take on things in this installment of the Edgy Interview.

 

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A fisherman! I grew up fishing with my grandpa and just loved it! Some of my best memories surround summers spent in the Sierras wading in Robinson Creek and fishing for rainbow trout. I wanted to have my own fishing show – “Kristin’s Katch” – and even went to broadcast journalism school with that in mind. Maybe one day!

 

Tell us about the point in your life when you realized your calling was politics? 

I always blame hormones. I was eight months pregnant with my second child and attended a fundraiser my husband (who was far more political than I was) hosted for then-State Senator Mimi Walters. Someone introduced me to her as a “future senator” and I laughed. Mimi just glared at me and said, “why not? What’s your excuse?” And I motioned toward my pregnant belly. She told me that was no excuse, that she had run with small children, and it could be done. Not long after, there I was with my own small children in a wagon going door-to-door running for City Council.


What achievement are you proudest of during your term as a County Supervisor? Encinitas Mayor?

I was the youngest woman ever elected to the Board and I joined a Board that had been together since I was in junior high! I was proud to prioritize people. I worked to highlight mental health and set the foundation that the County uses today to partner with healthcare organizations. As the first elected Mayor of Encinitas, I am most proud of the Encinitas Community Park, Moonlight Beach renovations and the Marine Safety Tower construction.

 

What was it like meeting President Trump?

Surreal. The most powerful person in the world walks through the door and takes a seat at the head of the table where I was sitting. Later, while on a tour of the West Wing, I realized that door led to the Oval Office. While I was nervous, I was there with a clear mission – to tell the heartbreaking story of 27 year-old Alexander Mazin who was gunned down in cold blood in San Diego. His murderer fled across the border and was living in plain sight in a Tijuana motel. I held up Alexander’s photo and told his story to the President of the United States who committed to bringing justice for the Mazin family. A few months later, I got the call from District Attorney Summer Stephan that Alexander’s murderer was extradited and his feet were on U.S. soil to face trial. I’ll never forget sharing tears and hugs with Alexander’s parents. With the help of the President, justice was served to a family whose lives were shattered.

 

If you could repeal one law, which would it be and why?

I’m not sure I would repeal it in its entirety, but the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA has been weaponized in recent years to shut down any sort of development or even redevelopment. I think the most reasonable solution is tort reform. There are lawyers (on both sides) who make a living filing or fighting CEQA lawsuits while counties and cities struggle to approve and actually build projects. In fact, my last year as Supervisor, more than 5,000 units were held hostage in court between two environmental attorneys in town!

 

What was your favorite musical genre as a teenager and what are you listening to now?

I’ve always been a fan of country music and even worked at a country music station in Phoenix – KMLE Country 108. I’ll never forget how I got this job. At the time, I was putting myself through college bartending at Red Robin. One night we were short staffed, and I was given the task of manning bar service for the entire restaurant and 19 additional tables. It just so happened that KMLE’s manager was seated in my section. When I brought him his check, he complimented me on my work ethic and on the spot offered me a job at the station. Next thing you know I was driving the station’s iconic Hummer out to remote broadcast locations all over Arizona and developing my love for country music. Now, my teenagers pick the playlist!

 

Who would you want to play you in your biopic?

My daughter, Addie. This kiddo is going to do something outrageously special one day. As for now she understands me more than in anyone else in this world. She is a careful observer, keenly aware of all of my likes, dislikes, and emotions. I can’t even do the “mom thing” and disguise when I’m sad or frustrated. Addie can see right through it and will start preparing a surprise care basket complete with all my favorites—Peanut M&M’s, Chardonnay, and a cozy blanket.

 

What was your favorite musical genre as a teenager and what are you listening to now?

I’ve always been a fan of country music and even worked at a country music station in Phoenix – KMLE Country 108. I’ll never forget how I got this job. At the time, I was putting myself through college bartending at Red Robin. One night we were short staffed, and I was given the task of manning bar service for the entire restaurant and 19 additional tables. It just so happened that KMLE’s manager was seated in my section. When I brought him his check, he complimented me on my work ethic and on the spot offered me a job at the station. Next thing you know I was driving the station’s iconic Hummer out to remote broadcast locations all over Arizona and developing my love for country music. Now, my teenagers pick the playlist!

 

First concert you attended and how did it make you feel?

The first concert I attended was a giant Country Music Festival in Arizona while working for KMLE. My job was to manage the backstage meet and greets before the performances. A new band was opening for Tim McGraw: Rascal Flatts. When I finished taking all the VIP’s through, the lead singer of the band, Gary LeVox, asked me to take a picture with the band. Just as we were posing to take the picture, Gary jumped up in the air and exclaimed that I had pinched his butt. Security started swarming over and the whole group was busting up laughing. It took Gary several minutes to convince my boss that he was only joking. This opening act in 1999 went on to become a trio of musicians with a combined net worth of $180 million with 12 No. 1 Hot Country hits and millions of records sold.

 

What three things are must-haves in your fridge at all times?

Chardonnay, Diet Coke, and Chardonnay

 

If you were a competitive eater, which food would be your specialty?

Gum. I’ve swallowed many pieces per day since I was a kid and — so far — I’m alive to tell about. Folklore suggests that swallowed gum sits in your stomach for seven years. It’s either a myth or politics has just made me extra resilient.

 

What is your favorite sports moment?

Coaching my two girls in Pop Warner Cheer and winning back-to-back National Championships our final years together and watching my son score the winning touchdown in his Pop Warner championship game!

 

Which reality TV show would you most like to compete on and why?

Funny you should ask. I love reality TV and often feel like I am actually on a daily reality show – like The Truman Show. I am a big fan of 90 day Fiancé, but don’t think my husband would approve of me going on that one.

 

Politically, what’s next for Kristin Gaspar?

I’ve been thinking about becoming San Diego’s Premier Pollster. [Ed. Hah, hah.]

 

What would you change about yourself?

Nothing and it reminds me of story. When I was Mayor, I had a particularly nasty hit piece done against me. It was a photo of me with all of these evil comments about my physical appearance. I decided to turn this around and use it for positive. One of the best parts of being in elected office is the opportunity to speak to school groups. I took the ugliness in this piece and used it to talk about bullying and body image with young children. Social media is here to stay. While you can’t control what people have to say about you, it is possible to control your reaction to it.

 

What advice do you have for young people starting out?

Trust the journey and no matter what you are doing at the present moment, be the best at it. My first job was as a chicken carver at Boston Market. Glamorous right?! No, it wasn’t exactly what I closed my eyes and pictured doing for the rest of my life or even in that moment. I made the decision that, if I was going to be a chicken carver, I was going to be the best chicken carver! Not long after, I was noticed by a customer who happened to be the general manager at Red Robin. He offered me a job as a hostess and the rest is history. Red Robin became the job that opened the opportunity for me to afford college, the steppingstone to a job in radio, and acceptance into the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where I proudly became the first college graduate in my family. I just knew there would come a day when lifting those greasy and not to mention heavy chicken spits would pay off! Have faith… trust the journey.

 

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Kristin-Gaspar
This is Tooltip!
Kristin Gaspar

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