ENCINITAS — Jerome Stocks, the current Mayor hopes to occupy his seat on the dais for a fourth straight term on the City Council. The November election ballot will feature two seated council members and seven challengers vying for three seats.
After 12 years on the council, with three years as mayor, Stocks said he is proud of his past decisions and is looking forward to making more contributions to shape the future of the city. Despite taking a considerable amount of criticism from some residents over the past years, Stocks said he is committed to continuing his public service on the council. “When you take your slings and arrows away, being on the council isn’t difficult,” he said.
Stocks said his initial feelings about being a council member haven’t changed. “I wanted to do this job; I have a deep, true love for this community. I wanted to be a person who would make decisions to help this community move forward.”
As the SANDAG chairperson for a two-year term and the North County Transit District chairperson for two years, Stocks has become immersed in mass transit issues.
He wants to be a part of the evolution of transit in Encinitas and throughout the county. “In terms of rail transit in the city, just like all along the coastal corridor, it will be double tracked, with more trains and a better commuter service,” he said.
“Federal regulations will change so that we could see light rail rather than heavy rail,” Stocks predicted. “Light rail use less energy, lower pollution and reduces sound impacts along the corridor,” Stocks said. “That directly impacts the quality of life.”
In addition, Stocks looks forward to the future growth in commuter rail and inner city transportation. “Encinitas’ relatively low density suburban geography doesn’t lend itself to successful mass transit,” he said. However, such services as the newly reintroduced Flex Bus that allows passengers to call ahead for door-to-door shuttle service within Encinitas and Solana Beach is a viable option.
As more and more cars take to the highways, Stocks said the future of Interstate 5 expansion includes HOT (High Occupancy Toll) lanes, two in each direction that will allow single passenger cars to pay for enhanced mass transit services.
With major capital projects, such as the Encinitas Community Park and the undertaking of the General Plan update over the last three years, Stocks said he’s looking forward to seeing many of the tasks come to fruition.
“We’ve put a lot of work into that (general plan),” Stocks said. “The same controversy is always the housing element,” he said. “We just have to show zoning capacity,” he said. “We do have very thoughtful development patterns in this town.”
Regional housing needs assessment can’t be answered on a “jurisdictional level,” he said. “It’s an artificial line. We can show regionally we have the zoning capacity to accommodate our fair share of growth. …
“To the degree we can we should preserve a community’s desire to protect its character,” he said.
The recent Crest Drive appeal to allow the rural community not to install more urban features was in line with an early 2000 vote he made to not allow curbed gutter sidewalks in Leucadia. “I’m going to back the neighborhood every time,” Stocks said.
Stocks said he wasn’t sure he wanted to run for re-election until after a family meeting. “Everyone in my family said, ‘Dad you have to run, this is what you do.’ I didn’t want my responsibilities on the council to take away time from my family, my business,” he said.
His wife of 21 years, Lisa, told him, “The public has invested a lot in educating you in these issues.”
“She’s so much smarter than I am,” he said. “I realized I’m still viable, I still have a lot to offer,” he added.
“Jim Bond is retiring, Maggie Houlihan passed away; we’ve lost a lot of our institutional history,” Stocks said. As the next longest serving council member, Stocks said he feels a “sense of obligation to maintain that institutional knowledge.”
Stocks said he’s still full of ideas that can positively impact the city and the region.
For instance, he’s been pushing SANDAG to have the bid packets on major projects broken down into smaller packages in order to open the market to small businesses. “I think I’m seeing some successes,” he said of the initiative.
As a small business owner, Stocks said he is passionate about the issue.
He also approached the Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association with the idea of implementing a downtown valet parking service using City Hall’s parking lot after hours and on weekends.
“Our downtown is thriving,” he said. “That’s a good thing and we want to make sure people have enough parking spaces to utilize all of the amenities we have to offer.”
I don’t feel like a chair warmer, he said. “I still have ideas and want to help the city move forward. I hope the public will have me.”