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Sparks fly over Encinitas council’s SANDAG appointment

Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer will remain as the city’s main representative on SANDAG, with the council voting 3-2 Dec. 17 to reject Mayor Kristin Gaspar’s bid for the position.

Since 2012, Shaffer has represented the city on the SANDAG board, which allocates money toward transportation infrastructure and other regional projects.

In Gaspar’s list of recommendations for council appointments to regional boards, she suggested herself for the SANDAG spot.

“I find it very important that the mayor is connected with regional issues, and that board clearly gives you a consistent crash course,” she said, adding that roughly 70 percent of cities send their mayors as representatives to the SANDAG board.

Gaspar said her recommendation had nothing to do with Shaffer’s past performance on SANDAG. Muir agreed, stating, “It has everything to do with the mayor’s spot.”

But Shaffer said the recommendation suggests “a demotion and lack of confidence.”

“If there’s not a problem with the service I’ve been providing, I would appreciate the council’s support in renewing my appointment,” Shaffer said. She then named cities such as Del Mar that don’t have a mayoral representative.

Deputy Mayor Catherine Blakespear said Shaffer is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about transportation issues, adding that that trumps what other cities do in regard to SANDAG appointments.

Councilman Tony Kranz said Shaffer has done a great job on the SANDAG board. Kranz also said that he’s heard a remarkable amount of chatter that there’s been political pressure for Gaspar to seek the spot.

“That’s the proverbial elephant in the room — it’s politics here,” Kranz said.

And Shaffer said quite a few people recently approached her after the last SANDAG meeting, saying they heard she would be replaced on the board.

Gaspar said she wasn’t the source of such rumors. And in response to Kranz, she denied she’s received political pressure to take the spot.

“I can tell you with complete assurance that has nothing to do with my recommendation before you, and it is offensive you’re making that assertion on my behalf,” Gaspar said.

Public speaker Judy Berlfein said Shaffer has represented the city well on SANDAG and should continue for consistency’s sake.

Kranz will serve as the first alternate on the SANDAG board and Gaspar the second alternate.

As far as other major appointments, Kranz will stay as the city’s main representative to the North County Transit District, with Muir remaining as the primary representative on the San Diego County Water Authority. Gaspar recommended those assignments, and the council approved them unanimously.

Blakespear will serve as president of the San Dieguito Water District, as is customary for the city’s deputy mayor.


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