ENCINITAS — A large crowd turned out to watch the city swear in newly elected councilmembers Lisa Shaffer, Tony Kranz and Mark Muir during a special meeting Tuesday night. The ceremony swearing in the councilmembers was a given — who would be elected mayor was anything but.
Kristin Gaspar, who was expected to be chosen mayor by Council, declined to be nominated for the position. After that surprise, Council unanimously selected Teresa Barth as mayor and Shaffer as deputy mayor.
Before the vote, Barth said the Council had been plagued by “petty politics” and “bullying,” but she was hopeful Encinitas could begin anew with an atmosphere of civility.
“I really want us to say that tonight we’re turning the page,” Barth said. “We’re ending the chapter of that really ugly decade.
“I don’t believe that we’re all going to agree, and that’s a good thing,” Barth added. “Because what we’re doing is bringing opinions, different perspectives, different life experiences.”
As deputy mayor with the previous Council, Gaspar was next in line to be mayor and Barth was slated to be deputy mayor under the Council’s rotation system.
Gaspar said she appreciated comments over the last week from councilmembers who indicated through the media they would elect her as mayor.
“While I appreciate their thoughts on the role I should serve for the next year, I will not accept a nomination for mayor or deputy mayor,” she said.
When asked Wednesday why she ruled herself out for the positions, she replied via email: “The evening was not about any one member of the council and their desire to serve in a given role over the next year. Rather, consistent with what I have repeatedly stated, it was about who was best suited to take leadership of the council at a particular time. I look forward to continuing to work with my fellow council members in an active, positive, and productive manner for the betterment of the Encinitas community.”
Unlike most cities in San Diego County, the Encinitas Council selects its mayor and deputy mayor via a Council majority every year. In the past, councilmembers have rotated seats so everyone gets a chance to serve as deputy mayor and mayor. However, under this often contentious system, Barth has been passed up for mayor three times, causing many to cry foul.
For this reason, at the beginning of the meeting Leucadia resident Lynn Marr urged Council to vote in Barth for mayor.
But in the interest of cooperation, Barth said she had planned on following the traditional rotation system and voting Gaspar as mayor.
“I think that the deputy mayor could have served as mayor,” Barth said. “I would have been delighted to serve as deputy mayor, and would still do that if that’s what my colleagues would request.”
Kranz, who noted he was prepared to vote for Gaspar in a U-T San Diego article published several days ago, said he was caught off guard by Gaspar’s decision.
“I’m a little surprised that Kristin has determined she’s not going to accept the nomination,” Kranz said. With that, he made a motion to make Barth mayor and Shaffer deputy mayor, which passed. Nine candidates ran for three open seats during the election, and Shaffer received the most votes.
The current method of selecting a mayor will be done away with in the next two years. Because voters recently approved Proposition K, the mayor of Encinitas will be selected directly by the public for a two-year term beginning in the 2014 election.
Earlier in the meeting, Sheila Cameron congratulated the new Council and hinted at how the political dynamic has changed.
“You finally got your majority, Teresa,” Cameron said, referring to Kranz and Shaffer being more ideologically aligned with Barth than outgoing Mayor Jerome Stocks and Councilman James Bond.
The story has been updated since its original posting.