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Encinitas council will seek applicants to fill Hubbard’s spot

The Encinitas sign shines above South Coast Highway 101 near the historic La Paloma Theater.
(Karen Billing)

Special, mail-in election would have cost $200,000 to $300,000, city clerk estimates

Encinitas will pursue appointing someone to fill the council seat newly vacated by Jody Hubbard, rather than holding a special election, the City Council decided Wednesday, Jan. 20.

“I think the city has been well served by the appointment process,” Councilman Tony Kranz said, mentioning that it’s been used to fill unexpected council vacancies multiple times in recent years.

Councilman Joe Mosca called appointing someone a “reasonable path,” given that an appointee would be selected by mid-March and could start work immediately, while a special election couldn’t take place until late summer.

“To me ... time is of the essence,” Councilwoman Kellie Shay Hinze said, mentioning that she wants someone engaging as soon as possible with the city’s Cardiff community the way Hubbard did.

Hubbard, 64, had served the city’s District 3 for two years when she announced her resignation Jan. 13. Her term in office was scheduled to end December 2022. She resigned due to health issues; she was diagnosed last year with non-smoker, non-small cell adenocarcinoma, and said Jan. 13 that her cancer had spread.

The district she has represented covers much of Cardiff, as well as part of the city’s mid-section along Encinitas Boulevard, and her replacement will need to reside in that section of the city. In addition to being a District 3 resident, eligible applicants must be at least 18 years old, a registered voter in Encinitas and a California state citizen, City Clerk Kathy Hollywood said.

Hollywood said the deadline to submit the paperwork will be Feb. 11, and the council is expected to review the applicants at a Feb. 24 meeting. Under state law, the council must fill the spot within 60 days — in this case by March 14 — if it goes the appointee route, rather than holding a special election.

A special, mail-in-only election would likely have cost the city $200,000 to $300,000, Hollywood said.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear said the council has received numerous emails from people who wanted to go the special election route. They called the appointment process “undemocratic,” a charge Blakespear said she didn’t agree with, saying that it’s frequently done by cities. She also mentioned that the state’s governor just appointed a new senator to fill out the term of Kamala Harris, who was sworn in as the nation’s vice president Wednesday, Jan. 20.

The council heard from two public speakers on the issue and both opposed using the appointment process to fill the District 3 seat.

Barbara Murray, who has lived in Cardiff for 35 years, said the people in her community should have “a representative they have chosen themselves” and the council could get by with four members instead of five until late August when a mail-in-only election could be held under the county election rules.

Ken Harrison, a lifelong Cardiff resident, said the Cardiff community is unique in Encinitas because it has its own ZIP code and school district, and “we want representation.”

“Appointing is nothing more than politics,” he said, later adding, “It is not democracy; democracy is voting.”

Kranz, who called Harrison a good friend, said that Harrison may be opposed to the idea of appointing someone now, but both he and Kranz were unsuccessful applicants for a council post years ago when former councilman Mark Muir was selected. At that time, Encinitas didn’t have district-based council seats.

Kranz said he’d prefer to pick an applicant who did not plan to run for the Cardiff seat when it’s up for election in 2022, but others on the council said they were open to the idea. Hinze said the job takes time to learn and the successful applicant should have the option of later running for the position.

Both Hinze and Mosca were initially appointed to the council in recent years and then later won election to their seats. Hinze was appointed in January 2019 to finish out the final two years of Tasha Boerner Horvath’s term after she was elected to the state Assembly, while in 2017, Joe Mosca was selected from a pool of 16 people to finish out the term of Blakespear after she was elected as the city’s mayor.

In other action Wednesday night, Jan. 20, the council voted to reject a resident’s appeal of a city Planning Commission decision that approved development plans for the old Cardiff post office site on Newcastle Avenue. The Newcastle Place project involves constructing two, two-story retail/office buildings.

Darren Quinn, a lawyer who lives behind the post office site, appealed the Planning Commission’s decision, raising concerns about building height and alley traffic congestion. Council members said they thought the project would benefit the neighborhood and voted 4-0 to reject the appeal.

— Barbara Henry is a freelance writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune


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