Scott Peters (politician)

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Scott Peters
Scott Peter's Official 113th Congressional Portrait.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 52nd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Duncan D. Hunter
Member of San Diego City Council
from the First District
In office
December 2000 – December 2008
Preceded by Harry Mathis
Succeeded by Sherri Lightner
Personal details
Born (1958-06-17) June 17, 1958 (age 55)[1]
Springfield, Ohio
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lynn E. Gorguze
Children two
Residence La Jolla, California
Alma mater Duke University, New York University School of Law
Website Scott Peters
Representative Scott Peters

Scott H. Peters (born June 17, 1958) is an American politician who has been the United States Representative for California's 52nd congressional district since 2013.[2] He is a Democrat. The district includes coastal and central portions of the city of San Diego, as well as the suburbs of Poway and Coronado.[3]

Peters previously served two terms on the San Diego City Council from 2000 to 2008, and he was the first person to hold the post of President of the City Council (2006–2008). He also served as a Commissioner for the Unified Port of San Diego before becoming a member of Congress.

Early life, education, and legal career[edit]

Peters was born in Springfield, Ohio in 1958. He was raised in Michigan. His father was a Lutheran minister and his mother was a church secretary.[4] His father worked to improve race relations in Detroit during the 1960s and was involved in housing desegregation efforts during that time.[5] Young Scott took out student loans and participated in his school's work-study program, through which he was assigned to answering phones and cleaning pigeon cages to earn money to help pay for his degree.[4] He received his undergraduate degree from Duke University.

He served as an economist on the staff of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),[5] then earned a law degree from the New York University School of Law. Prior to his election to the City Council, Peters worked as an attorney in private practice and practiced environmental law. He gained notability in a lawsuit against a local shipbuilder.[6]

San Diego local government[edit]

Community service/political activism[edit]

Peters has served on various community and nonprofit organization boards, including those of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, CleanTECH San Diego, and the UCSD Chancellor’s Community Advisory Board.[5] He is a Director on the Board of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, which describes itself as “an educational, nonprofit organization working to create healthy, connected communities that support active living and that advance opportunities for all people through walkable streets, livable cities and better built environments."[7] He served as Chair of the San Diego Foundation’s Climate Initiative, which was formed to study the effects of climate change on our environment and quality of life.[8]

In 2002 Peters was appointed to the California Coastal Commission.[9] He served one three-year term on the Commission. A coalition of environmental groups gave his votes an environmental score of 31% in 2002, 52% in 2003 and 40% in 2004. [10] [11] He was "involuntarily retired" in 2005 when new State Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez did not renew his appointment.[12]

City Council (2000–2008)[edit]


Scott Peters in 2011

In 2000, he ran for the San Diego City Council's 1st district. In the open/nonpartisan primary, he ranked second with 24% of the vote, qualifying for the November general election. Businesswoman Linda Davis ranked first with 32% of the vote.[13] In the November election, Peters defeated Davis 53%-47%.[14] In the 2004 open primary, he ranked first with 48% of the vote. Businessman Phil Thalheimer ranked second with 31% of the vote.[15] In the November election, Peters won re-election to a second term, defeating Thalheimer 55%-45%.[16]


In 2004, San Diego city residents voted to change the structure of city government from a council-city manager form of government to a mayor-council form of government, which made the mayor the City's chief executive officer.[17] Serving as a Councilmember during this time, Peters took responsibility for chairing the transition committee in charge of this project.[18]

In 2005 Peters was elected by his fellow council members to serve as the first President of the San Diego City Council,[19] which under the new form of government made him the chief officer of the city's newly defined legislative branch. As the first City Council president, he set up the new government structure. That included establishing an independent Auditor (who reviews City functions and budgets for possible efficiencies) and the office of the Independent Budget Analyst (which supplies independent budgetary analysis to assist City Council decision making and serves as a governmental check-and-balance).[20] He helped to establish the city's first Ethics Commission, which is an arm of the government overseeing activities such as elections and lobbying to encourage transparency.[21] In 2008 Mayor Sanders vetoed a 24% pay raise for the City Council that Peters and four other Councilmembers had voted for themselves. [22] [23]

Peters was a member of the San Diego city council during the time the council was embroiled in the San Diego pension scandal.[24] In 2002, he voted with the majority to underfund the employee pension system.[25] [26] The ensuing investigation by the S.E.C. cleared Peters and the other council members of fraud, but the Kroll Report investigation called them "negligent". The city has spent $7 million defending officials involved in this case, including $631,000 defending Peters.[27] [28] During the 2012 congressional election campaign his Republican opponent, Brian Bilbray, made the scandal a major theme against Peters.[29]

When asked to name significant accomplishments to come out of his City Council service, he cited a reduction in sewer spills and beach closure days.[30] He stated that the City averaged one spill per day when he was elected in 2000, but that, during his terms in office, the incidence of such spills fell by 80%.[30] He was involved in the push to ban alcohol from the city's beaches, as well as to ban smoking from public beaches and parks.[31][32]

2008 City Attorney election[edit]

Having reached the end of his eight-year term limit on the City Council, Peters ran for San Diego City Attorney in 2008, challenging incumbent City Attorney Mike Aguirre. In the open/nonpartisan election, State Assemblyman Jan Goldsmith ranked first with 32% of the vote. The incumbent ranked second with 29% of the vote, qualifying for the runoff election. Peters ranked third with 20% of the vote and thus did not advance to the November runoff.[33][34] He later served as deputy county counsel for the County of San Diego.

In 2008 Peters was criticized by the Voice of San Diego for excessive water use. Citizens were urged to curb their water use due to a drought. Peters was revealed as a heavy water user and said he would try to conserve but ended the year having consumed more than 1 million gallons of water for his home, which sits on a 34,848-square-foot lot near Mount Soledad, and for an adjacent landscaped parcel.[35]

Port Commission (2009–2012)[edit]

Peters was a Port Commissioner from 2009 through 2012 and was Chair of the Port Commission in 2011. He was sworn in as a Commissioner in January 2009, after having been appointed by the San Diego City Council.[36][37] He represented the City of San Diego on the Port Commission, making decisions regarding the uses of San Diego Bay and its adjacent waterfront land.[38]

Peters was chosen by his fellow commissioners to serve as Chair of the board of commissioners for 2011.[39] In January 2011, he cited several top priorities for his term. One was to have the South Bay Power Plant in Chula Vista decommissioned to make room for a use that better serves the public and the environment. The plant has long been considered an eyesore and a potential environmental concern.[39] In the year Peters served as Chair, the Port met significant milestones related to both of those goals. It reached a deal with the former operator of the plant for its demolition.[40] The Port also conducted community outreach over a period of six months to gather ideas for improving San Diego’s waterfront “front porch” between the airport and Seaport Village.[41]

When Peters turned over the Port's leadership post to retired Admiral Lou Smith in January 2012, he mentioned these milestones among the Port's accomplishments for 2011.[42] During his term as chair, the Port underwent a reorganization, reducing the number of employees and departments to improve efficiency and save money.[42] Peters resigned from the Port Commission upon his election to Congress.

U.S. House of Representatives (2013-Present)[edit]

2012 election[edit]

Peters ran for the newly redrawn 52nd Congressional District in 2012. Republican U.S. Congressman Brian Bilbray, of the 50th district, was drawn into the 52nd district due to redistricting. Eleven candidates filed to run. In the open primary, Bilbray ranked first with 41% of the vote. Peters ranked second with 23% of the vote, qualifying for the November general election. He narrowly edged State Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, a fellow Democrat, who earned 22% of the vote. The other candidates all received single-digit percentages.[43][44] On election night the vote was too close to call, but Peters' small lead increased each day as more absentee, vote-by-mail, and provisional ballots were processed. On November 16, Bilbray conceded the race to Peters.[45] Peters officially defeated Bilbray 51%-49%, a difference of 6,956 votes.[46][47]


Although he is a Democrat, Peters has voted the same way as Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner on 9 out of the 16 times that Boehner has chosen to cast a vote.[48]

In May 2013, Peters voted against repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).[49][50] In October 2013, Peters was one of nine Democratic co-sponsors of HR3425, a proposal which would delay any penalties under the PPACA until four months after the program's website is fully functional.[51]

In October 2013 he successfully proposed an amendment to a water projects bill; the amendment requires the Secretary of the Army to coordinate with FEMA when disseminating emergency communications.[52]

Committee assignments[edit]


Peters is a member of the House Democratic Caucus and the New Democrat Coalition.[53] He is also a member of the No Labels Caucus.[54]

Personal life[edit]

For more than two decades, Peters has lived with his family in La Jolla, which is now part of the 52nd Congressional District.[5] He and his wife, Lynn E. Gorguze, have a daughter and a son. Lynn is president and CEO of Cameron Holdings,[55] and his family's $112 million net worth has been achieved through venture capital investing.[56] As of 2014 Peters is the sixth wealthiest member of Congress.[56]

Electoral history[edit]

United States House of Representatives elections, 2012[57]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Scott Peters 151,451 51.2%
Republican Brian Bilbray (incumbent) 144,495 48.8%
Totals 295,946 100.0%
Democratic gain from Republican


  1. ^
  2. ^ "New San Diego congressional members sworn in: Juan Vargas, Scott Peters to begin terms". Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "California State Congressional District 52". HealthyCity, based on CRC Certified Map. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Scott Peters Thinks He Can Take Down Brian Bilbray". San Diego CityBeat. November 30, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d Scott Peters campaign website. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  6. ^ Rodgers, Terry (2000-03-04). "Five known only locally seek Mathis' seat". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. B-1. 
  7. ^ Walkable and Livable Communities Institute: Our Team. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  8. ^ The San Diego Foundation: Climate Advisory Committee Members. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ City of San Diego Official Website City Ordinance 2006-45. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  18. ^ City of San Diego Official Website: City Council Transition Committee. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  19. ^ Vigil, Jennifer (2005-11-23). "Peters is named first president of City Council". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. B3. 
  20. ^ City of San Diego Official Website: Role of the Independent Budget Analyst. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  21. ^ City of San Diego Official Website: About the Ethics Commission. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Pension troubles: A timeline". San Diego Union Tribune. March 2006. Retrieved September 21, 2012. 
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ "TV ad wars begin in Peters-Bilbray contest". North County Times. September 11, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2012. 
  30. ^ a b "Election 2012: Who is Scott Peters?". La Jolla Light. January 1, 2012. 
  31. ^ "Alcohol Banned for One Year at San Diego Beaches". FOX News. 2007-11-06. 
  32. ^ Watkins, Thomas (2006-06-13). "San Diego Bans Smoking at Beaches, Parks". The Washington Post. 
  33. ^ [1]
  34. ^
  35. ^ Davis, Rob. "Peters Hasn't Curbed Water Use". Voice of San Diego. Retrieved September 20, 2012. 
  36. ^ Unified Port of San Diego: Commissioner Profiles.
  37. ^ City of San Diego, Appointment Process Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  38. ^ Port of San Diego: About Us. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  39. ^ a b Unified Port of San Diego: New Board Chairman Scott Peters Declares 2011 the Year of Innovation. January 11, 2011.
  40. ^ "Demolition of power plant finally OK'd". San Diego Union-Tribune. October 26, 2011. 
  41. ^ "Citizens waterfront ideas include beach, barge". San Diego Union-Tribune. October 11, 2011. 
  42. ^ a b Unified Port of San Diego: Port Swears in New Board Officers for 2012. January 11, 2012.
  43. ^
  44. ^ "Registrar of Voters Confirms Race Results". La Jolla Patch. June 24, 2012. Retrieved July 8, 2012. 
  45. ^ "Rep. Bilbray concedes race to Democratic challenger Scott Peters". Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  46. ^
  47. ^ "Presidential General Election, Tuesday, November 6, 2012". San Diego County Registrar of Voters. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  48. ^ Giroux, Greg (October 28, 2013). "Some Democrats Vote With Boehner Touting Independence". Bloomberg. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  49. ^ Sam Baker (11 June 2013). "NRCC hits Calif. Dems over ObamaCare rates". The Hill. Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  50. ^ "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 154". Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  51. ^ Kasperowicz, Pete (October 21, 2013). "Nine Dems propose mandate delay". The Hill. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  52. ^ Kasperowicz, Pete (October 23, 2013). "House rejects Dem attempt to protect environmental review of water projects". The Hill. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  53. ^ "Rep. Scott Peters, New Democrat Coalition Demand Comprehensive Immigration Reform by September 30". Press release, Congressman Scott Peters office. August 5, 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  54. ^ "Problem Solvers list: House". Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  55. ^ "Cameron Holdings Management Team". Cameron Holdings. Retrieved December 22, 2012. 
  56. ^ a b Long, Katie (January 9, 2014). "Most Members of Congress are Millionaires". Slate. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  57. ^ 2012 general election results

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Duncan D. Hunter
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 52nd congressional district

January 3, 2013 – present
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Scott Perry
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Robert Pittenger
R-North Carolina