Encinitas Council member Tasha Boerner Horvath officially announced her intent to run for California’s 76th Assembly District in the November 2018 election the morning of Oct. 3.
Boerner Horvath, a Democrat who was elected to a four-year council term in November 2016 after serving on the city’s planning commission, said in a news release she will continue to support North County residents if elected to the state position.
“In the Assembly, I will be your champion on issues we care about,” she said in a statement. “I will lead on policies that empower hardworking families, fully fund our public schools, safeguard our most vulnerable populations, and protect the natural beauty of California. I will use my experience in the private sector to grow our economy and ensure that our state’s government reflects the same spirit of innovation that our businesses and residents are known for.”
When she ran for the Encinitas council seat in 2016, Boerner Horvath listed preserving community character as her top priority. She told the Encinitas Advocate last October that keeping local businesses thriving, safe streets for everyone and protecting beaches, parks and trails were also issues she would focus on.
Boerner Horvath said she decided to run for Assembly about a month-and-a-half ago because no one is representing Encinitas’ interests on a state level.
“When I look at our region we really deserve somebody who represents the values of our district, and I don’t see that we have that now,” she said in an interview. “I looked at it and said there are many ways to serve our city. We lose out that we don’t have somebody. ... Last year, I made a promise to voters to fight for the things that matter to us most, and since taking office I have realized that one of our biggest challenges is that we don’t have an Assemblymember willing to fight for us in Sacramento.”
She said her focus remains on issues that “empower hardworking families,” such as affordable housing, renewable energy, infrastructure projects and education.
Her Assembly campaign website, tasha4assembly.com, lists nearly 30 endorsements from community leaders such as Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, Encinitas Council member Joe Mosca and State Assembly members Todd Gloria and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher.
Boerner Horvath said she is proud of the people who have supported her state campaign so far.
“I am excited about the campaign ahead,” she said. “I understand that there is likely to be more than one Democrat challenging [incumbent] Rocky Chavez next year, which I think is a positive thing. If the Democratic candidates can focus on running issue-oriented campaigns in the primary, it will improve our likelihood of success in the general election.”
Blakespear said Encinitas would benefit from having Boerner Horvath in Sacramento.
“While I enjoy serving with Tasha and will miss her, I believe there are lots of great people who can be effective locally,” she said. “The state legislature needs more people like Tasha and I applaud her initiative, ambition and willingness to jump in.”
However, others are skeptical of Boerner Horvath’s choice to run and worry about her commitments to Encinitas while running her state campaign.
Encinitas Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz said he does not plan to endorse Boerner Horvath.
He said he was surprised she would begin a campaign 10 months into her council term, especially when “there are two other great Democratic candidates for the Assembly already.”
“I’m not sure where she will find the time to do it all, but that’s her challenge, not mine,” Kranz said. “In my opinion, political ambition is best spread out over time and after accomplishing some of what you claimed were your goals when you asked voters to support you for the seat you have.”
Former Encinitas Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer, who supported Boerner Horvath’s campaign for council, said in an email she was “disappointed” in Boerner Horvath.
“As someone who encouraged Tasha to run for City Council, and who actively contributed to her campaign, I feel betrayed, and I believe other Encinitas voters will feel the same way,” Shaffer said. “We elected Tasha so that she would work for us on issues she championed, such as safe routes to school and active transportation. I did not expect her to use her Council seat as a stepping stone to higher office before even completing her first year.”
Council member Mark Muir also said he was surprised Boerner Horvath would run early into her time on the council. He said he assumed the Democratic Party talked her into running and hopes she will represent all constituents, and not just those in her party.
“I just think it’s important to understand and not be so party-centric that you’re not open to other ideas or consensus building,” he said. “I don’t know if Tasha can do that. I guess we’ll find out.”
He said he has not yet decided if he will be supporting any Assembly candidate and in the past has generally not endorsed candidates running for any office.
Boerner Horvath argued she remains committed to Encinitas’ issues as she continues to serve on council while running her campaign.
“I’m a very hardworking, tenacious person who’s dedicated with a high work ethic,” she said. “I was still a mom and businesswoman while running my [council] campaign. ... It’s absolutely possible to run a strong campaign and be a strong council member. Just as two council members work full time and are able to serve on the council, I will be more than able to run my campaign and serve on the council simultaneously.”
She said she has accomplished more in her eight months serving on the council so far than some officials do during their entire term.
She said she is proud of the strides she and her fellow council members have made regarding improvements to safe routes to school, Beacons Beach and the city’s youth commission, as well as movements toward a state-certified housing element and alcohol regulations.
Democrats Michelle Cassel Gomez and Elizabeth Warren have also announced candidacies to attempt to unseat Chavez, a Republican, for the 76th Assembly District position, which represents the cities of Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside and Vista, as well as the Camp Pendleton Marine Base. Candidates must file between Feb. 12, 2018 and March 9, 2018 for the June 2018 primary election.
Encinitas City Clerk Kathy Hollywood confirmed that if Boerner Horvath is elected, the five-member city council would have to fill the council member’s vacancy, either by appointment or election.