Encinitas mayor, deputy mayor sworn in
The city’s first directly elected mayor and a new face recently took their spots on the council dais.
A large crowd packed into council chambers for a special meeting Dec. 9 swearing Kristin Gaspar and Catherine Blakespear into office.
Gaspar, who secured 47 percent of the vote among a field of five candidates, easily grabbed the two-year mayoral seat in November. Her platform stressed fiscal restraint.
“I want to take the time to thank the volunteers and supporters who were behind me for my campaign for mayor,” Gaspar said. “I want to thank my family who has sacrificed a lot for me to be here.”
In prior years, the mayor job rotated between councilmembers annually, occasionally leading to controversy since some officials were skipped over for the post. But no such drama occurred this year.
That’s because voters passed proposition K in 2012, creating a directly elected mayor position.
Gaspar was elected to the council in 2010 and named mayor this past summer. Due to an unusual arrangement, Gaspar split the one-year mayor term in 2013-14 with Councilwoman Teresa Barth.
Because Barth declined to run for reelection this spring, Dec. 9 marked her final council meeting. Residents, councilmembers and officials from outside of Encinitas lined up to praise Barth for her eight years on the council.
Echoing others, resident Gene Chapo said Barth promoted civility and always took the time to hear others out.
“Even if she doesn’t agree with someone, she always listened,” Chapo said.
She received gifts and plaques of recognition from groups like Leucadia Town Council, Cardiff 101 Main Street Association and Encinitas Friends of the Arts.
In a farewell speech, Barth said she’s proud the council has worked together over the last two years, a spirit she hopes continues.
“We have a responsibility to be nice to each other,” Barth said.
Blakespear credited Barth with inspiring her to serve on the city’s Traffic and Public Safety Commission for four years, adding Barth is an example of Encinitas’ tradition of strong female leaders.
Blakespear, who bested three other candidates to succeed Barth for the four-year council seat, said she’s looking forward to collaborating with the rest of the council and city staff.
“I look forward to a great four years,” Blakespear said.
At the recommendation of Gaspar, the council unanimously approved Blakespear for the one-year deputy mayor role.
In explaining her suggestion, Gaspar said she served as deputy mayor her first year in office, calling it “a great way to get your feet wet.” She stated the deputy mayor is expected to attend quite a few events, giving Blakespear the chance to meet more people in the community. And the deputy mayor chairs the San Dieguito Water District, so Blakespear will get the opportunity to better understand water issues, Gaspar stated.
Gaspar also said having Blakespear in the role would demonstrate a united council.
Blakespear’s emphasis on community character aligns with councilmembers Tony Kranz and Lisa Shaffer, with Gaspar and Councilman Mark Muir making up a council minority generally more focused on business.
“Ninety percent of the time, we vote together,” Gaspar said. “Occasionally we have 3-2s, 4-1s and that’s OK to disagree, too. But after an election, it’s important we demonstrate we’re all willing to work together.”