Political newcomer Bawany contending for Encinitas mayor post


Editor’s note: This is the second in a series profiling all mayoral candidates

Munawer “Mike” Bawany, an engineer who has worked for several high-profile technology companies, has dedicated the past 28 years to his career and family.

Soon to retire, Bawany recently turned his attention toward politics.

More than a month ago, he launched his Encinitas mayoral campaign, joining four others in the race: Kristin Gaspar, Tony Kranz, Sheila Cameron and Alex Fidel.

Bawany acknowledged he’s new to many city issues. But he believes the council could benefit from an outsider’s perspective.

“You don’t need to be a career politician to make changes,” he said. “It’s your own life experiences as a community member. That’s what really counts.”

Bawany said he’s particularly interested in protecting Encinitas’ character.

Along those lines, he believes Measure F, an initiative on the November ballot that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, would degrade residents’ quality of life.

“I don’t want to change the landscape of this city,” he said. “It also creates opportunities for young kids to get hooked on marijuana.”

Because of noise and trash concerns downtown, Bawany wants to make it tougher for new bars to obtain permits. The threat of litigation, he added, wouldn’t deter him from pursuing this goal.

“If you don’t do something, someone could get run over by someone,” Bawany said. “Either way, you’re going to be at the risk of a lawsuit.”

He discovered Encinitas nearly three decades ago, after landing a new job in San Diego. He was charmed by the city and knew it would be a good place for his family.

Bawany added he’s enjoyed “every minute” in the city and decided to run with the aim of preserving Encinitas.

“Growth is not what I’m against,” he said. “But it has to be planned and managed. Encinitas is at a tipping point.”

Until recently, Bawany said he was largely unfamiliar with major city issues like Proposition A, the zoning initiative that passed last summer, as well as the city’s housing element, which will serve as a guide for growth.

Still, Bawany said he’s a quick learner and strong leader, citing his experience leading corporate engineering teams.

“I’ve worked with teams of 100, 200 to put out a project,” Bawany said. “I know what performance is … I think this would be valuable to the city.”

Related to this, he believes the city is awarding contracts to companies that aren’t doing a good enough job repairing local sidewalks.

Although he hasn’t reviewed those contracts, he said his experience reviewing corporate contracts would help the city draft documents holding construction companies’ accountable for their work.

He said his views don’t necessarily match those of other current council members. But like Mayor Kristin Gaspar and Councilman Mark Muir, he was against the city buying the $10 million Pacific View site from the Encinitas Union School District.

“The city paid too much and doesn’t know what it will do there,” Bawany said, adding he’s worried that more tax dollars will be necessary to get any plans off the ground there.

He believes that money should have gone toward roads and infrastructure.

Bawany hadn’t raised any campaign contributions as of June 30, the most recent disclosure period.

Compared with other candidates, he doesn’t expect to rack up contributions. He added “money talks,” but it’s not everything in a campaign.

“I’ve been going around the community, and I’m learning a lot from residents,” Bawany said.

He later added: “I believe I’m the best person to represent them.”