Editor’s note: The Coast News is re-posting this story, which was originally posted Dec. 16, 2011.
ENCINITAS — As the City Council voted 4-1 on Dec. 13 to install longtime council member and current Deputy Mayor Jerome Stocks as mayor and newly elected Council member Kristin Gaspar as deputy mayor, over three-fourths of those in attendance stood with their backs to the dais.
The silent protest marked the third time Council member Teresa Barth has been passed over for the leadership positions. Barth, now in her second term in office, has yet to receive enough council votes to serve in either deputy mayor or mayoral capacity.
During last year’s mayoral vote, Barth supporters shouted in outrage after Bond, Stocks and Gaspar voted for the 2011 leadership positions. Late Council member Maggie Houlihan and Barth voted against Bond for Mayor and Stocks for deputy mayor, saying it did not follow the longstanding rotational history of selecting the two posts.
The vote is effective immediately.
Bond assured the audience that he had not talked to Gaspar about nominating her for the deputy mayor position, citing potential Brown Act violations in doing so. Newly appointed Council member Mark Muir seconded the nomination.
However, Gaspar was prepared with a written response to the nomination, saying, “I will serve all the citizens of Encinitas.”
Muir suggested the council discuss ways the process of selecting leadership be altered to “make it more criteria based.” He proposed the council set the item on a future agenda for discussion before the vote was taken.
Many in attendance anticipated the vote. “No, I was not surprised,” Russell Levan said after the meeting when asked his reaction to the vote.
“It was completely expected even though (Bond) promised he wouldn’t let this happen a third time,” resident Dean Turney said.
Despite calling the leadership spots “simply rotational,” Bond said last year that he would not support Barth because she was “divisive.”
“I expected it,” Barth said. “Their actions aren’t going to deter me from continuing to serve the community; to protect the environment, ensure fiscal responsibility and open government.”
Barth expressed doubts about Stocks’ leadership capabilities as mayor. “I think he is a poor representation of the city,” she said. “He’s aggressive and his manipulative tactics don’t serve the citizens well.”
However, the two did agree that the rotational mayor process had outlived its usefulness. “It should be on a ballot to let the people decide the pros and cons of having the same person in that office for four years,” Barth said.
“I really think it’s time for the selected process as mayor to end,” Stocks said after the meeting. “I don’t think it’s good for the city or the agency to have annual change in leadership.” Rather, he said, that having the same person in the top leadership post would provide “consistency” in processes and vision as well as serve the citizens better.
Stocks said the system of rotating the mayor and deputy mayor positions is plausible for a city that is just starting out. “But we’re 25 years old now and as we mature as a city, we should also mature in the way we select our leadership,” he said.
Stocks will announce his council appointments to the various local and regional commissions and committees next week.