ENCINITAS — It’s a small change, but it could impact the November election. In the last election, the ETA (Encinitas Taxpayers Association) issued a voter scorecard grading City Council candidates on issues like pensions, secrecy and debt policy. Based on these ratings, candidates were given a letter grade.
At a meeting last week, the ETA voted to continue giving candidates grades for the upcoming November election, but with one difference: the scorecard will also contain endorsements at the bottom.
President Bob Bonde stated, with some at the meeting agreeing, that the ETA should go a step further than previous elections and specifically endorse candidates.
“I think the public is really looking for leadership,” Bonde said.
Others at the meeting said endorsements went too far, arguing a scorecard alone is neutral and more objective. As a compromise, ETA members voted to include endorsements, but only as a reflection of the grades on the scorecard.
The ETA will soon put together this election’s scorecard. To determine grades, the organization interviews candidates and looks at policy positions from their websites. The candidates are given grades “A” to “F.” Of the four candidates in the 2010 election, Deputy Mayor Kristin Gaspar received an “F” grade, while Councilwoman Teresa Barth received an overall grade of “A-.”
Bonde believes the ETA’s endorsements will bolster campaigns. An endorsement is “more tangible, more obvious” than a letter grade, he said.
“The candidates can say they were endorsed by our group. People understand that better than a letter grade,” Bonde said. “And if they want to see why we endorsed that candidate, they can look at our scorecard.”
Several days after the meeting Ed Wagner, a member of the ETA’s board of directors, said it’s the first time “in recent history” the organization will endorse candidates.
The ETA was formed in 1986 to monitor local governmental agencies and how tax dollars are spent.
There are three open Council seats, but Wagner said it’s yet to be determined how many candidates will be endorsed.
The voter scorecards will likely be distributed to residents in parts of Encinitas in late September — prior to the arrival of absentee ballots, Wagner said. The scorecards will also be posted online at encinitastaxpayers.org.