Encinitas bids adieu to Catherine Blakespear as she heads to state legislature

Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, right, calls her relatives up to the podium Tuesday.
Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, right, calls her relatives up to the podium Tuesday, Nov. 29, while showing photographs from her first swearing-in ceremony years ago.
(Photo by Barbara Henry)

Three-term mayor lauded for service to community


For Mayor Catherine Blakespear’s supporters, Tuesday night, Nov. 29, was a bittersweet moment as the community wished her the best in her new role as a state senator and thanked her for her service in Encinitas.

“Good luck as you go up north, don’t forget about us,” said Marlon Taylor, a member of the city Equity Committee that Blakespear helped create.

Environmental attorney Marco Gonzalez, who’s been involved in city legal issues for 25 years, said the end of an era had arrived.

“I’m proud to have been a part of the Blakespear era,” he told the crowd of some 100 people gathered at the recognition event at City Hall.

Blakespear was elected to the state Senate, representing the 38th District, earlier this month. She has served three terms as Encinitas mayor, and was a councilwoman and a city traffic commissioner before that. And, she’s a fourth-generation San Diego County resident who brought many of her relatives to the Nov. 29 gathering.

“It really truly is the honor of my lifetime to serve as mayor of Encinitas,” she said during a prepared speech at the start of the two-hour event.

After she spoke, her council colleagues each talked about what it was like working with her. Councilmember Joe Mosca said his first meeting with Blakespear was the “start of a great partnership and friendship,” while Councilmember Kellie Hinze, who recently gave birth to a daughter, praised Blakespear’s family-friendly policies.

At the end of the event, Encinitas arts commissioners, bicycle and pedestrian project supporters, environmental advocates and housing program backers all sang her praises, listing among her accomplishments the Leucadia Streetscape project that’s overhauling Coast Highway 101, the Coastal Trail projects in Cardiff, the planned renovation of the future Pacific View arts center downtown, and the creation of the Safe Parking Lot program for homeless people who are temporarily living in their cars.

For her part, Blakespear said being mayor hadn’t always been the easiest of jobs, mentioning that when she was first elected there was an intense conflict over the proposed route for the Coastal Rail Trail and in later years there was the fight over the opening of an overnight parking program for homeless people.

“These are all hard things to do,” she said.

Blakespear stressed that she couldn’t have accomplished what she did without the support of her family, her council colleagues and city employees. She said she also owed a debt to the many women who have been elected to the Encinitas City Council over the years, several of whom were in the audience Nov. 29. In the city’s 36-year history, it has had 19 mayors and 12 of them have been women, Blakespear said.

One former Encinitas councilmember was unabashedly delighted that Blakespear was leaving her Encinitas post to take up the state Senate position.

“While you lose her, I gain her,” state Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath told the crowd.

Horvath said she can’t wait to have a local partner in state government to work with on North County issues, adding that she had “so many hopes and so many dreams” of what they might be able to accomplish together given Blakespear’s abilities and her Encinitas knowledge.

Blakespear said she would be leaving behind a few unfinished items that she hoped her successor — Tony Kranz, a longtime councilmember who has just been elected mayor — will pursue. Those include making sure that the Pacific View arts facility becomes “the gem it was meant to be” and that pedestrians and cyclists continue to find it easier to get around town. She’s also got a job for herself, she added, vowing that the first bill she’ll introduce as a state senator will address homelessness issues.