DEL MAR – “Welcoming Terry to the Terry seat,” were the words of now former Mayor Dwight Worden, after he and Terry Gaasterland were sworn in and seated as council members at a Dec. 10 ceremony.
Council took the opportunity to honor outgoing Councilman Terry Sinnott, who stepped down from the seat after eight years of service. His colleagues applauded him for his mentorship and “steady hand,” particularly when it came to contentious issues, and his work on projects such as the new civic center, the JimmyDurante Boulevard roundabout and the Streetscape project.
Sinnott, who is also board chair of San Diego Association of Governments, sent an email in July to friends and supporters announcing that he would not seek re-election in November, referring to a polarized political atmosphere in the city.
A resolution of appreciation jokingly announced Sinnott’s departure as a “futile attempt to preserve his sanity.”
Worden lauded Sinnott for his work and comportment on the council, even when the two were on opposite sides of a vote.
“You’re a very articulate spokesperson on what you believe is right,” Worden said.
Terry Gaasterland, a professor of computational biology and genomics at the University of California, San Diego, was seated in Sinnott’s place. Out of four candidates, Gaasterland brought in 1,453 votes, or 34.16 percent, while Worden garnered 1,179, or 27.72 percent of the total vote.
Worden took the opportunity to recognize that about 83 percent of eligible Del Mar voters made it to the polls in November.
Worden has now stepped down from his mayoral position, and as a parting gift, the council presented him with a wooden gavel for keepsake. Because the position rotates in Del Mar, Dave Druker is the new mayor, with Ellie Haviland as deputy mayor.
Worden said he is somewhat relieved to now be a council member, and relinquish some of the challenging operational responsibilities of the mayor position.
“I’ll just be able to concentrate on the substance,” he said.
He said he is most proud of his ability as a mayor to maintain civility among the council and residents, particularly amidst hot topics such as sea-level rise and managed retreat.
He is now looking at the impending challenges “at the core of our community,” such as implementing the city’s new sea-level rise plan, making a decision on the Del Mar Resort, problem-solving when it comes to bluff stabilization and safe railroad crossing, and analyzing potential affordable housing solutions.
Gaasterland said some of her most immediate concerns are bluff erosion and railroad track safety. She is hoping to put together “working groups” of residents, possibly in the form of ad-hoc committees, to start gaining traction with key issues such as sand-replenishment.
“The solutions may not happen for five to 10 years, but let’s take concrete steps to get them going,” she said.
She also looks forward to seeing how having a majority of women on the council will change the fabric of the group.“We’re in discovery mode here,” Gaasterland said.