Gaspar elected Encinitas mayor; Blakespear wins council race


Encinitas voters went to the polls on Tuesday to directly elect a mayor for the first time, and Kristin Gaspar handily won with 48.04 percent of the vote.

Five campaigned for the two-year mayor position, while Catherine Blakespear prevailed over three other candidates to nab the four-year council seat.

“Somebody needs to pinch me,” Gaspar said when reached Wednesday morning. “It dawned on me that there’s only one first elected mayor in the city of Encinitas, and I’m really honored to serve in that role.”

Previously, a council majority selected the mayor. But Proposition K passed in 2012, giving residents the power to directly choose their mayor.

Gaspar, the city’s current mayor, emphasized what she called back-to-basics budgeting during the campaign. Chiefly, she opposed the city buying the Pacific View property from the Encinitas Union School District for $10 million last spring, arguing that the money could have been better spent on roads and infrastructure.

“I think people are interested in making sure we maintain our roads, our infrastructure and our parks and beaches,” she said.

Gaspar, who was headed to Disneyland with her family to celebrate on Wednesday morning, added she’ll promote core city services going forward.

Tony Kranz, the city’s deputy mayor, finished second with 32.26 percent.

At candidate forums, Kranz countered that the Pacific View vote was fiscally sound and saved the legacy property from falling into developers’ hands. Kranz, who was elected in 2012, will remain on the council because his term ends in 2016.

On the campaign trail, Kranz also emphasized his leadership roles, including serving on the North County Transit District board, as a way to address citywide issues like traffic.

Former Mayor Sheila Cameron, who came in third with 13.08 percent, once supported Kranz. But Cameron later came out against him when he opposed Proposition A, an initiative passed last summer that requires a public vote on zoning changes.

“A three-way race isn’t the best way to approach these things,” Kranz said. But he added that Cameron in the race might not have made a difference, because “Kristin ran a great campaign and is quite popular.”

“I look forward to continue serving with her,” he said.

Rounding out the mayor’s race: Engineer Munawer “Mike” Bawany gained 3.65 percent and independent journalist Alex Fidel netted 2.96 percent of the votes.

Additionally, Measure F, which proposes to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in Encinitas, was defeated with 56.09 against it. It needed a majority in favor to pass.

In the council race, Blakespear, an attorney who has championed urban agriculture, beat out Alan Lerchbacker with 38.32 to 32.99 percent.

“I think it shows that in Encinitas, a positive grass-roots campaign can win,” Blakespear said, adding she’s proud her campaign didn’t send out negative mailers or robocalls.

Blakespear will replace outgoing Councilwoman Teresa Barth, who decided not to run again last spring. Barth, Kranz and continuing Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer make up a council majority that has voted together on a number of high-profile issues like Pacific View.

“I think I agree philosophically with the three who are more pro-environment and slow-growth,” Blakespear said. “In the last two years, they have prioritized those types of decisions for the city, and I agree with a lot of that.”

However, Blakespear said she’s also in favor of limited government when possible, a stance she believes appeals to Gaspar and Councilman Mark Muir. She added that she’ll meet separately with each of the councilmembers before she’s sworn in to find common ground.

Lerchbacker, a Navy veteran, said he “came into the race late.”

He started campaigning in August, but quickly gained ground by loaning himself $25,000 and netting an endorsement from the Republican Party of San Diego County. Likewise, Blakespear secured an endorsement from the county Democratic Party.

“The two women who won are great and very professional,” Lerchbacker said. “The council will do great things with them on board.”

Julie Graboi came in third with 19.82 percent, and Bryan Ziegler secured 8.87 percent.

Gaspar and Blakespear led the pack in campaign fundraising in their respective races. This year, Gaspar took in $27,291 and Blakespear received $36,659, according to candidate paperwork filed Oct. 18. However, those figures don’t include money from outside groups.

A political action committee called Public Safety Advocates spent $10,000 on mailings supporting Gaspar and Lerchbacker.

Beyond spending and Pacific View, other issues during the campaign included how to address downtown bars, affordable housing and stadium lighting at the soon-to-debut Encinitas Community Park.

As of Wednesday morning, 13,049 ballots for mayor had been counted and 11,960 for council. Those represent about 80 to 85 percent of ballots cast, with only some provisional and mail ballots remaining, according to the Registrar of Voters Office.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the county Democratic Party gave Blakespear a last-minute contribution of $2,100. Rather, Blakespear gave the county Democratic Party $2,100.