Kranz touts leadership roles in Encinitas mayoral bid


Editor’s note: This is the last in a series profiling the five mayoral candidates.

Mayoral candidate Tony Kranz believes he’s demonstrated leadership since being elected to the council two years ago. This, he said, makes him the best person to serve as Encinitas’ first elected mayor.

“We’ve made a lot of progress in the last two years,” Kranz said. “So I’m hoping to tout the fact that we’ve gotten things done, and I want to continue to move the city forward.”

Kranz, the city’s deputy mayor, noted he has played a key role in: efforts to relax city agriculture rules; developing a vision for the rail corridor; and the council’s decision to buy the Pacific View property last spring from the Encinitas Union School District.

Of the city’s recent purchase of the Pacific View property, “I feel strongly that in 50 years the community is going to be very happy that it’s still public property,” Kranz said. “Regardless of what ends up on that site, the fact that it’s public and that it’s most likely arts-related, I think it is going to be very important for the community.”

After negotiations with the school district faltered, Kranz suggested the council reach out one last time in hopes of averting a planned auction. And at the 11th hour, he was a major proponent of the city putting in an offer.

However, the $10 million purchase has critics. Mayor Kristin Gaspar, who is also contending for the mayoral post, has argued the city failed in its negotiations and that the money would have been better spent on roads and other infrastructure.

In response, Kranz stated the city is still funding all essential services and recently increased funding for roads. He acknowledged the city has deferred infrastructure needs, but added it was critical that the city buy the property to keep it out of developers’ hands.

“We increased funding on road repairs, and would I have liked to increase spending more for roads? Yes. And I’ll be focusing on that in the years ahead … But because land can’t be retrieved once it’s gone, I thought it was really important that we decided to acquire the site,” Kranz said.

He said that representing Encinitas on the North County Transit District board has afforded him a strong understanding of local rail and traffic issues. He added that largely because of this experience, he’s best qualified to work with regional agencies to advance local traffic-calming improvements and public transit. This includes bike projects bridging “the last mile” — the short distance between a person’s home and a transit hub like the Coaster station, Kranz noted.

On a related note, he said NCTD and the city have collaborated more in the last year, noting they’re working together on a rail agreement that seeks to address parking, dust and other problems near the train tracks.

He also believes more rail crossings are key so people have more options to make their way across the tracks.

“We have too few legal ways to cross, and that means people break the law,” Kranz said.

Kranz has also served on council subcommittees, including one that aims to ease permitting and reduce livestock setbacks in order to encourage urban agriculture.

“We opened up the subcommittee process and have engaged the community in an entirely new way when it comes to discussing the important stuff,” he said.

Kranz, an account executive in the printing industry, grew up in Encinitas and said he’s always believed in slow growth.

He recalled political fighting in the 1970s between those in favor of development at Village Park and those flat-out against it. Land use, he noted, is once again a major issue in light of the city working on its housing element.

Due to appear on the 2016 ballot, the housing element seeks to add affordable homes throughout the city.

Since many people are skeptical of any new developments, he said, it’s key that the housing element take into account and mitigate traffic and environmental concerns.

As a candidate in 2012, Kranz supported Proposition A, an initiative that passed last summer that requires a public vote for proposed developments taller than 30 feet.

Kranz said he was initially told that Prop A wouldn’t nullify “specific plans” — pockets throughout the city that allow mixed-use and development over 30 feet. When it came to Kranz’s attention that Prop A would indeed affect the specific plans, he came out against the initiative.

He acknowledged the decision cost him some supporters, but added he believes most of the community respects his “principled opposition.”

“A ruthless politician might decide that their one vote wouldn’t make a difference on the council siding one way or the other, so maybe I should have just stuck with the Prop A people and not alienated that group,” Kranz said. “But the fact is it had something in it I didn’t like … So I had to be honest to the public.”

Kranz, who kicked off his campaign in August, has raised $12,293 in contributions and spent $7,192. Among his notable contributors: Former Councilman Dennis Holz and current Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer each gave him $250.

Proposition K passed in 2012, doing away with a council majority selecting the mayor. Besides Gaspar, Kranz faces Alex Fidel, Munawer “Mike” Bawany and Sheila Cameron in the race.

Kranz said he isn’t endorsing any of the four candidates running for the one open council seat, stating he wants the community to know he’s prepared “to work with whoever is serving on the council.”

“I’m not looking to create any alliances that are going to create the turmoil the city used to have on the council,” Kranz said, adding that he applauds the council for being civil over the past two years.

Kranz believes his background and past leadership roles give him a good shot at winning.

“If people want the first elected mayor to be capable of getting things done, then I think most of them will come to the conclusion that I’m the best candidate,” Kranz said.