Blakespear set to take on new post

ENCINITAS — Over the past 30 days since her election-day victory, Councilwoman-elect Catherine Blakespear said she’s been digging herself out of the hole that six straight months of campaigning will do.

“I’ve been catching up on my legal work,” the estate attorney said. “I put off a lot of things during the election season, and I am almost completely caught up.”

She’s gotten back to doing the things she loves, such as baking a lemon merengue pie with her son, harvesting macadamia nuts and replanting her garden with leafy green veggies.

“It’s not glamorous,” she said. “It’s just daily life with a family.”

Her daily life will assuredly change Tuesday, as the journalist-turned-attorney will be sworn in to her new post as councilwoman. Blakespear finished atop a four-person field for a vacant council seat, essentially replacing Teresa Barth, who did not seek re-election.

For Blakespear, the new journey is an extension of her philosophy on family.

“For me, the City Council is an outgrowth of family,” Blakespear said. “In that immediate sphere, you have your family, and when you expand that out, you have your friends and your neighborhood, and ultimately, you have the community, and they are all interconnected through our service to each other and to the community.”

While Blakespear said she has always acknowledged and appreciated the importance of local government since her days as a reporter with the LA Times and the Associated Press, her interest in becoming a part of local government took on a new life when she returned home after living eight years in Salt Lake City, Utah.

She joined the city’s Traffic and Public Safety Commission, and there, she said, she saw even more how important the role of the five elected members of the council were to the outworking of public policy.

“It really helped me understand what kind of decisions were being made at our level and at the council level, and it strengthened my appreciation for the work that goes into that decision-making process,” Blakespear said. “It also made me recognize the importance of that role.”

Blakespear’s campaign platform included several major themes, but the one that stood out to many in the community was her championing of urban farming. Derided by her opponents at times for what they called a narrow platform, Blakespear argued on the campaign trail that the plight of urban agriculture had a greater impact than what met the eye, including on land-use planning and zoning issues.

“The neighborhood food movement is very important to me,” Blakespear said. “It’s something I believe is very important to the community as well.”

One of her first actions on the council, Blakespear said, will be to help complete the urban agriculture ordinance that is in its draft stages. Blakespear played a key role in that draft, as she is credited for suggesting the council create a subcommittee to craft the ordinance.

Above all, she said, she is confident and excited about what lies ahead.

“I definitely believe I am up to the challenge,” she said.

Fast facts

Catherine Blakespear

Age: 38

Occupation: Estate planning attorney

Education: Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism in Northwestern, Juris Doctor from University of Utah

What’s in a name? Catherine Blakespear was born Catherine Blake, but merged her name with husband Jeremy Spearman, whom she met playing on a competitive co-ed ultimate Frisbee team in Utah. “It is the ultimate gender equality in naming,” she said.

MVP: Blakespear played basketball at Torrey Pines, where she was team MVP for three years and played varsity for four years. One LA Times clip in 1992 chronicled a game in which she had 22 points and 16 rebounds.

Pushing…10? Blakespear was born on Feb. 29, 1976 — yes, on a leap year. She says she loves it because “most people only like celebrating your birthday every four years or so anyway.” She said that on off years, her friends and family equally split her birthday celebrations between Feb. 28 and March 1. “Technically, I’m 9 1/2,” she said.

Deep roots: Blakespear’s family has had roots in the Encinitas and Coastal North County for nearly 100 years. She currently lives across the street from her aunt and her mother and law firm partner, Tricia Smith. “I really identify myself as part of my family,” she proudly proclaimed. “We are unusually close.”

Renaissance woman: Blakespear’s hobbies and interests run the gamut from everything from team sports, to mountain biking, yoga, cooking, baking and gardening.

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