ENCINITAS — Catherine Blakespear appears headed toward a landslide victory in her bid for a second two-year term as mayor of Encinitas.
With 63 percent of the precincts reporting early Nov. 7, Blakespear had netted nearly 84.5 percent of the citywide vote in her race against John Paul Elliott, a real estate broker in his first election.
Blakespear, who celebrated her victory on election night with supporters at a restaurant in Leucadia, said she felt the vote validated the direction the city has headed under the current council.
“I am grateful for the support of the community, I am excited to work on the projects that we have in front of us,” Blakespear said. “And the residents seem to be saying that they think we are headed in the right direction.”
Encinitas’ mayor position, which has a two-year term, is the only one of the five elected citywide under the new by-district election system.
For Blakespear, who voters first elected to the City Council in 2014, this is the second dominant performance at the polls in a mayoral election. In 2016, she defeated Paul Gaspar, a business owner and husband of former Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar, by a 2-to-1 margin.
Elliott campaigned on a promise to have the city develop and manage affordable “villages” that would be made available as workforce housing for the city’s public employees. He also was an outspoken critic of the North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape and a proposal to build a staircase at Beacon’s Beach.
But his campaign was viewed by some residents as a fringe effort due to his eccentricities, underwhelming performances in candidate forums and questions about how long he had lived in the city. Elliott also ran a campaign on a shoestring budget, pledging to spend less than $2,000 on the entire effort.
Blakespear said she believed the election results show the limited appeal of the anti-streetscape efforts.
“I think it’s clear that it does not have wide resonance,” Blakespear said specifically about the anti-streetscape efforts in the campaign. “The idea that this anti-streestcape campaign can flip these elections is not proving out.”
Looking forward to her next term, Blakespear said the top issue — as it has been the past four years — is housing and getting the city in compliance with state housing laws.
“Our top priority is to get ourselves out of the penalty box when it comes to housing with the state and the lawsuits,” Blakespear said.
With Measure U, the city’s latest attempt at a housing element update, likely failing at the ballot, a Nov. 13 court day looms for the city over its past failures passing an affordable housing plan.
Elliott, reached Nov. 7, said that he respected the results and spoke candidly about his novice in running a campaign, but said he would remain involved in city politics and would push for the city to pursue his housing concept. He also hinted at a run in 2020.
“The people spoke and I wish I was little more experienced in running a race, but I learned a lot and also can see the real issue of housing,” Elliott said. “I am going to make a presentation to the council and Catherine about this proposal that maybe the city wants to embrace building housing for the people in the city.
“I am going to be sticking around here, I got 2,100 people that liked what I had to say, and if I could have talked to all 61,000 I would have won the election, so I’d love to do it again,” he said. “In two years, I’ll be a much more viable candidate.”