Encinitas voters made two things clear on Nov. 8 — they like the direction the city is heading but they want to see it take another crack at the state-mandated Housing Element.
Voters on Election Day gave current Encinitas City Council member Catherine Blakespear a convincing win over challenger Paul Gaspar in the race for Mayor, and gave incumbents Tony Kranz and Mark Muir enough votes to join newcomer Tasha Boerner Horvath on the City Council.
With Blakespear leaving her Council seat to replace Kristin Gaspar — Paul’s wife — as the city’s next Mayor, she and the three elected City Council members must choose either appointment or a special election to fill that spot.
Kristin Gaspar was losing to Dave Roberts in a race for County Supervisor as of Nov. 9, though by less than 2 percent of the vote.
Blakespear, an attorney who was elected to the City Council in 2014, topped Paul Gaspar, who runs a large local physical therapy business, by a 2-1 margin (67 to 33 percent of the vote).
“I think it reflects the fact that our message resonates with Encinitas voters,” Blakespear told the Encinitas Advocate on Nov. 9. “Our campaign was authentic and talked about the issues. I’m always trying to be clear about laying out a positive vision for the future, and transparent about who I am. I think that comes through when people read my newsletter, when people see me on the Council and when people meet me in person.
“Now, we need to go forward with environmental improvements and investments in our community. The voters have made that clear based on the results of both the City Council and Mayor’s (races).”
As definitive as Blakespear’s victory was, citizens were nearly as decisive in voting no on Measure T, which failed by a 56 to 44 percent margin.
The state mandates that Encinitas update its Housing Element — it is the only city in San Diego County without state certification — but because of the city’s 2013 Prop A, the plan was required to be voted on by the citizens. Opponents of the plan felt it did little to help with affordable housing, the nominal reason for the state mandate, and that it would allow for more development than was necessary to comply with the state law.
“The voters have spoken and that is really important,” Blakespear said of the Measure T vote. “But the state law remains the same, which means we still need a Housing Element. So we, as the Council and Mayor, will have to work with the citizens to find a solution.”
Blakespear added that the courts will also be weighing in, as the city is dealing with a pair of lawsuits related to the Housing Element.
Though city elections are officially nonpartisan, Blakespear, Kranz and Boerner Horvath were all supported by the local Democratic Party and endorsed each other, while Muir, Gaspar and Council candidate Phil Graham were endorsed by local Republicans.
With the top two vote-getters earning four-year City Council terms and third place earning a seat with a two-year term, Kranz led the way with 23.2 percent of the vote.
“I’m full of gratitude for the trust the voters put in me and I think it is an indication that folks are happy with the direction the city is going in so I want to continue that,” said Kranz, who first moved to Encinitas in 1960 at the age of 1 and has served on the Council since 2012. “We’ll continue to focus on public service, road repair, safety and environmental interests, and there are a number of Capital Improvements that I’d like to see completed in the next few years so we will keep plugging away on those.”
Boerner Horvath, an Encinitas Planning Commissioner since June of 2015 and an active member with the Paul Ecke Central PTA, promised to be a fair and reasonable leader and focus on the issues she sees as most important for the city of Encinitas moving forward — helping local businesses thrive; keeping the beaches, parks and trails safe and clean; making the streets safer for cars, bikes and pedestrians and protecting community character. She finished second with 21.7 percent of the vote to earn a four-year term.
“I am just so appreciative of all of the support I received from all over the city,” Boerner Horvath said. “This (campaign) has been the most amazing journey, and I know all of the candidates who ran love Encinitas so I want to thank them and hope they will stay engaged.”
Muir, who was appointed to the City Council in 2011 and re-elected a year later, got 20.9 percent of the vote to retain his seat.
The former fire chief edged challenger Tony Brandenburg (17.5 percent) — a Planning Commissioner who had the distinction of being the only candidate to oppose Measure T — and Graham (16.7 percent).
The current City Council (Mayor Kristin Gaspar, Blakespear, Muir, Kranz and Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer who did not run for re-election) will meet one last time for a special meeting on Dec. 13 to swear in the new Council. The new City Council (Mayor Blakespear, Kranz, Boerner Horvath and Muir) will then begin the process of filling the open seat.
According to Encinitas City Clerk Kathy Hollywood, beginning Dec. 13 the Council has 60 days to appoint someone to the position or call a special election. Complete information on this process can be found at https://tinyurl.com/pw7uehu.
Another measure with local implications was MM, a MiraCosta College bond measure which passed with 62.2 percent of the vote.