Encinitas council candidate Ziegler cites law experience


As an attorney who enforces land-use and environmental regulations for the county of San Diego, Bryan Ziegler believes he is the best-qualified of the four candidates running for a seat on the Encinitas City Council in the November election.

“I think I have the best balance of experience of anyone who’s running for the job,” said Ziegler, 35, because of his knowledge of municipal law, and his background in such areas as drafting ordinances and pursuing violators, from slum lords to polluters to operators of illegal marijuana dispensaries.

“I want to bring law and order to the city of Encinitas,” said Ziegler, who, in addition to his job with the county, volunteers as a reserve deputy sheriff.

As a staunch supporter of Prop. A, the measure approved by Encinitas voters last year that requires a public vote for zoning changes, Ziegler also had kind words for some of the other candidates on the November ballot, including one of his opponents in the council race.

“I think Julie Graboi and Sheila Cameron are great candidates for city council and mayor because they supported Prop. A, they really care about the community and aren’t bought and paid for by special interests,” Ziegler wrote in a follow-up email after an interview with the Encinitas Advocate.

Ziegler believes that his support for Prop. A was a key reason that the Republican Party of San Diego County, which had originally endorsed him in the City Council race, on Oct. 2 withdrew its endorsement and instead decided to back one of his opponents, Alan Lerchbacker.

Ziegler, who ran unsuccessfully for council in 2012, said he considers Prop. A a good fit with Republican principles, because it allows local residents to make land-use decisions, rather than state lawmakers. A state rule — called density bonus housing — has drawn fire from some in Encinitas. Under this rule, developers can increase the density of their residential developments, or build more homes, if they include some affordable housing for low-income people.

“The effect of Prop. A makes it hard for the state to implement its density bonus law, and it’s a great way to fight against the state in that regard,” Ziegler said.

The campaign comes at a difficult time personally for Ziegler. Earlier this year, he underwent back surgery, and he is often in pain, requiring a cane to walk. He is on leave from his county job as he recovers, and his condition has made it difficult for him to sit through forums and other public events.

His three key issues, he said, are public safety, fiscal responsibility and environmental protection. The decision made by the council to purchase the Pacific View property for $10 million, he said, puts other city priorities such as public safety in jeopardy.

If elected, Ziegler said, he would work to sell the property: “Being fiscally responsible, I think we need to get rid of the Pacific View property as soon as possible.”

On the issue of the city’s unfunded pension liability, Ziegler said the city should follow the county of San Diego’s lead by reducing the amount of its contributions for city pensions and creating a voluntary program for city employees to shift from a guaranteed pension to an investment program such as a 401(k) account. Such a savings plan could also be created for new hires, he said.

Ziegler opposes Prop. F, which is on the November ballot and would create regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries. “I don’t support any marijuana dispensary in the city of Encinitas,” he said.

While the Republican Party’s endorsement was taken away from Ziegler, he does have endorsements from the Lincoln Club of San Diego, the California Republican Assembly (a faith-based organization), the San Diego County Deputy Sheriff’s Association and the San Diego County Apartment Association.

The most recent campaign disclosure statements filed with the city clerk’s office, which reflect money raised through Sept. 30, show Catherine Blakespear in the lead with $31,679 in contributions, followed by Alan Lerchbacker with $22,450, Julie Graboi with $10,218, and Ziegler with $2,990.

Lerchbacker’s total includes loans of $20,000 from himself to his campaign, while Graboi has loaned her campaign $3,500. Blakespear has contributed $5,253 to her campaign.

Ziegler considers himself a moderate Republican who will speak for all of the citizens of Encinitas. He also said he’ll put on the gloves when necessary.

“I’m a fighter … for justice for the people, that’s what I believe I’m doing by continuing to run for city council,” he said.