Encinitans: this is a dangerous moment in our city’s politics, and we have to be careful how we vote. As an Encinitas slow growth/“community character” advocate, I support Tony Kranz for Mayor and Catherine Blakespear for city council. Here’s why.
The City Council we’ve had for the last two years has been the sanest in the history of the city. Just cast your mind back two years and compare the current council to the previous one. That careless, pro-development council, led by Stocks and Bond, was both dysfunctional and wrongheaded. That council did almost nothing for the city, beyond selling bits of it out to developers. Kristin Gaspar and Mark Muir hold the same values as Stocks and Bond. If Gaspar were to be elected mayor and someone like Mr. Lerchbacher were elected to city council, we would find ourselves exactly where we were two years ago, with a pro-development council majority ready to sell out the last vestiges of the Encinitas we know and love. That would be heartbreaking.
This is why we must make sure the basic political dynamics of the current council do not change. While the council block of Kranz, Barth, and Shaffer may have made some mistakes, such as failing to support Prop A, they have done much more good (plastic bag ban, urban agriculture progress, purchase of Pacific View, and much more). The greatest problems the city faces are those involving traffic and development. These are the problems that, if left unchecked (or placed in the hands of the Gaspar-Stocks types), will undermine our quality of life and the character of our communities. You may or may not agree with the Pacific View purchase (though anyone who thinks we paid too much evidently has not looked at local property prices lately) or the lighting question at the new sports complex – but these issues are small potatoes! They don’t compare to the problems of traffic and development, which threaten to turn our beloved Encinitas into a clone of Orange County.
On the other hand, Tony Kranz is the most savvy transportation guy around. He’s passionate about rail corridor, walkability, and cycling issues, serves on the NCTD board and the regional transportation body, and has true vision when it comes to solving our traffic problems. Additionally, Blakespear promises to maintain the course already set by Barth, Shaffer, and Kranz. So, the choice between voting for Kranz and Blakespear instead of Gaspar and Lerchbacher is a no-brainer.
The far trickier problem is the presence of Sheila Cameron, which could divide the slow-growth contingency. Sheila entered the race on the final day of application, giving Kristin Gaspar the best birthday present she could imagine. And her presence threatens to throw a monkey wrench into the progress the city has been making. Not because her positions are faulty. On the contrary. I agree with most of them, and, in fact, they do not differ substantively from those of Kranz. Sheila is sharp and has been a dutiful public servant in the past. I hope she will run for mayor again in the future sometime.
The problem is that Sheila Cameron can’t win. She just doesn’t have broad enough support. What she can do, though, is draw votes from Tony Kranz and help elect Kristin Gaspar in the process.
Do you remember what happened in our 2000 presidential election? The presence of Ralph Nader is what drew votes from Al Gore, essentially giving the election to George W. Bush. Our local situation is almost identical. Sheila Cameron may well be the Ralph Nader to Kranz’s Gore and to Gaspar’s Bush. That Sheila did not take this into account when deciding to enter the race is cause for concern, as it shows a lack of good judgment. It also suggests that she’s in the race for more personal reasons. If she really cared about the future of Encinitas, she would never have decided to run this time.
And it may not be too late. If she really cared about Encinitas, she would withdraw from the race right now and publically throw her support to Tony Kranz, who would then have a chance of defeating Gaspar (and all of her contributions from developers who don’t even live in our city).
If you care about Encinitas continuing on its (moderately) progressive path, towards less traffic and a cleaner environment, you should support Tony Kranz for mayor and Catherine Blakespear for Encinitas City Council.
Darius Degher is a Leucadia resident.