Husbands of Encinitas council members may enter race

The Encinitas mayor’s race took a funny and familial turn this week with three husbands of prominent politicians indicating they might enter the race.

Steve Bartram, who is married to Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer, and Don Barth, the husband of former Encinitas councilwoman and mayor Teresa Barth, both pulled nomination papers this week, just days after Paul Gaspar — the husband of Mayor Kristin Gaspar — announced he was running.

Kristin Gaspar can’t seek re-election because she’s in a runoff in November for a seat on the San Diego County Supervisors now held by Dave Roberts. Shaffer announced last year she wouldn’t run again for council.

While some are speculating that Barth and Bartram only withdrew papers to mock Paul Gaspar, Bartram said he is definitely contemplating a run.

“I’m real serious,” he said Tuesday. “If Paul thinks he can walk in Kristin’s high heels, I can certainly walk in Lisa’s Birkenstocks.”

Don Barth said he’s committed to defeating Gaspar.

“It’s about Paul saying he can run because his wife is the mayor,” Barth said. “He believes that Kristin has some sort of legacy he wants to maintain. I don’t see that to be true. She has done nothing, and she represents this city poorly.”

Paul Gaspar could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Bartram is a former Rancho Buena Vista High School teacher and career Marine aviator; Don Barth is a semi-retired administrator in the horse-racing industry. Paul Gaspar is a physical therapist and businessman.

Councilwoman Catherine Blakespear — who’s halfway through her first four-year term on the council — is the only other person to have pulled papers for the mayor’s post. She announced her intention to run late last year and has been gathering support and endorsements since then.

“To me its all very strange,” Blakespear said Tuesday about her potential opponents in the race. “I’m going to wait to see who turns their papers back in.”

Though the City Council is nonpartisan, Blakespear is a Democrat and Kristin Gaspar is a Republican, and the two are sometimes on opposite sides of city issues.

When Paul Gaspar took out nomination papers last week, he said friends had encouraged him to run, and that his wife’s departure from the council would leave “a bit of leadership space for common-sense, nonpartisan leaders who have accomplished a lot.”

Until now, Gaspar hadn’t been particularly active in city politics, and Blakespear said last week that his decision to run “smacks of opportunism.”

On Tuesday, Bartram also questioned Gaspar’s qualifications.

“I have a pretty high level of regard for Paul,” Bartram said. “But Paul does not have a record of public service. If the qualification is that your wife is an elected official, I guess I qualify.”

Bartram said he’s meeting with people to determine the level of support for his campaign.

“I’m a realist and a pragmatist,” Bartram said. “I want to be sure I’m doing this for the right reasons.”

His wife, Lisa, is one of three Encinitas council members whose terms expire this year. The other two with expiring terms are Tony Kranz and Mark Muir. As of Tuesday, only Kranz had pulled nomination papers and Muir had not, although Muir filed a statement with the city clerk in February declaring his intention to seek re-election.

Three challengers, Tasha Boerner Horvath, Peter Tobias and Phil Graham have also pulled papers for council seats. No one so far has returned the completed papers along with the required minimum of at least 20 Encinitas registered voters’ signatures and a $25 filing fee.

The deadline to file is 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12. If an incumbent fails to file in either the mayor or the council races, the deadline will be extended to Wednesday, Aug. 17.

As a result of the creation of the elected mayor position, one of the 2016 council terms will be for two years instead of four as a way to evenly stagger the remaining four council terms. The third-place vote-getter will receive the two-year term, which will be decided by lot in the case of a tie for second place.

— Phil Diehl is a writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune