Editor’s note: Each of the candidates has received the same 10 questions. Their responses have been unedited and will be posted online as they are returned.
Name: Kristin Gaspar
Occupation: Mayor, CFO Gaspar Doctors of Physical Therapy
Previous government experience: Elected to City Council in 2010
Education and Work Experience:
- Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University
- Bachelor of Arts Degree in Broadcast Journalism
- KMLE 108 FM, Phoenix, Arizona- Promotions Department for #1 ranked station in the state
- KGLN 11, Phoenix, Arizona- Intern field reporter, writer, anchor and photographer
- CFO Gaspar Doctors of Physical Therapy since 2002
- Founder/Leader Coast Cardiovascular Club Senior Fitness Program since 2002
- Founder San Dieguito Sports Medicine & Scholarship Foundation (501c3) 2004
- President San Dieguito Sports Medicine& Scholarship Foundation 2009-2013
Community Leadership and Service:
- Encinitas Mayor 2014
- Encinitas Deputy Mayor 2011-2012
- Encinitas City Councilmember-Elected 2010
- Encina Wastewater Authority Board Chair-2013-2014
- San Dieguito Water District Board President 2011
- Encinitas Rotary Club Member since 2004
- President Encinitas Rotary Club 2008-2009
- Encinitas Rotary Club Board Member;
-2005 Club Service Chair, 2006 Treasurer, 2007 President Elect
- Rotary International District 5340-District Council Chair (Leading 61 Clubs)
- Encinitas Wine Festival Committee Chair 2005-2014
- Patrons for Encinitas Parks Board Member 2010
1. What prompted you to run for council or mayor?
The City is in a place where they need a Mayor they can be proud of and trust to keep their word, have an open mind, and a common-sense approach to leadership and decision-making. My combination of public and private sector leadership experience make me the most qualified candidate to work with a complex organization, like the City, which has a large budget, several departments, and well over 200 employees. I have earned the respect of Encinitas citizens, as well as the City staff, which is essential in maximizing organizational efficiency and bringing everyone together to make our City the best that it can be.
2. What do you feel are the three biggest priorities for the next city council, and how as mayor or council member would you help the council achieve those objectives?
As the City’s first elected Mayor, I’ll work tirelessly to continue protecting the quality of life we enjoy in Encinitas. My public service experience, strong fiscal record, and business skills make me the most qualified candidate to fight for;
- Balanced budgets
- Prioritized spending
- Managed growth in a responsible manner
I have earned the respect of Encinitas citizens, as well as the City staff, which is essential in maximizing organizational efficiency and bringing everyone together to make our City the best that it can be
3. In 2016, the electorate will vote on the Housing Element Update, which is currently in its preliminary stages of public input. What do you think the housing element should reflect in terms of density, housing types and community character?
Planning for Encinitas’ future must include consideration of the characteristics that make Encinitas special. Although SANDAG has calculated that Encinitas must plan to accommodate approximately 1,200 affordable housing units (AHUs), Encinitas has not been threatened with a monetary fine. Encinitas is also not required to build anything, but is required to complete a plan demonstrating they could accommodate the AHUs. State law requires that all cities have updated, legal housing plans in compliance with affordable housing laws. Encinitas is the only city in San Diego County not in compliance. We must continue to demonstrate noticeable progress on the plan, in a good-faith effort to become compliant with state law, while keeping each community’s concerns and character at the forefront. We must also avoid the possibility of having a state-appointed judge draft our plan due to lack of compliance with state law. I agree with the Council and Planning Commission that we should take the following steps; 1. Continue extensive community outreach to maximize input 2. Count existing units first! Educate residents on the “amnesty plan”, bringing existing units into compliance, thereby reducing the number of new units required. 3. Complete a plan in compliance with State law and let Encinitas vote on it in 201
4. City staff has contended that the housing element needs to include zoning to accommodate for the development of more of 1000 “affordable” units to meet state affordable housing mandates. A number of residents feel the city could achieve its affordable housing mandates by providing amnesty for illegal dwelling units provided they be earmarked for a certain period of time for affordable housing. Where do you stand on this issue?
We should count existing units first! Educate residents on the “amnesty plan”, bringing existing units into compliance, thereby reducing the number of new units required.
5. The City Council recently received a report that showed that nuisance complaints stemming from the city’s downtown bar scene had decreased since increased enforcement began during the summer, but it also showed that two of the largest alcohol-serving establishments, Union and Shelter, consistently missed the mark during inspections. What do you feel needs to be done to continue to improve the downtown night scene and specifically what needs to be done in regards to the two bars that have been out of compliance?
I am pleased with the progress recently reported by our Sheriff’s Captain regarding positive changes made in the Downtown Area using a moderate, proactive, problem solving approach. I voted for a proactive code enforcement approach instead of a Deemed Approved Ordinance (DOA) because a DOA would have solved few of the issues reported by residents regarding the Downtown area. I expect that improved code enforcement will resolve specific issues related to establishments not meeting the City’s standards. I also welcome a discussion regarding the amount of fines for serious or repeat offenders of City policy.
6. The City is currently in the process of closing escrow on the purchase of the Pacific View Elementary School site for $10 million, which it will pay for with debt financing that will amount to $24.4 million (this includes the financing of the lifeguard tower) over the life of the bond repayment. Briefly state your position on the purchase, and, moving forward, what should the city’s next steps be with the site, and what priority should be giving to accomplishing those steps?
Financial planning must reflect the priorities of residents, protecting infrastructure and core services. The Pacific View land purchase passed with a 3-2 vote (Gaspar/Muir opposed) for several reasons:
- The City paid $10,000,000 for the property, which was 2-3 times the appraised value, and $500,000 more than asking price.
- The purchase required debt financing since the property could not be funded using cash on hand. The end result was a so-called “balanced budget” that underfunded key infrastructure and prioritized capital improvement projects.
- The budget resulting from the land purchase, underfunded road maintenance by well over $1,000,000, guaranteeing that our roads will be in worse condition for years to come.
Moving forward— The City should continue with their visioning process, but keep the discussion as an integral part of the overall strategic and financial planning to ensure that we can afford monies spent on the Pacific View vision and that we are not continuing to underfund identified capital improvement projects, road improvements, and infrastructure maintenance.
7. How would you rate the city’s efforts with road and infrastructure maintenance and how much of a priority would it be for you as mayor or council member?
In 2009, the City conducted a comprehensive assessment of the City’s overall road conditions. The purpose of this report was to help prioritize both the level and location of investment in our City’s road improvement projects. The Council majority frequently points out that even with the Pacific View purchase, more money was invested in roads than in prior years. While it is true that more money has been invested than in the last budget, it is still not enough to keep the quality of our roads at the level they are today. At minimum, an additional 1-2 million dollars was required in this budget cycle alone to maintain and improve our roads.
In addition, a comprehensive assessment was performed on our City’s infrastructure maintenance. Between 3 and 4 million dollars was required in this budget alone to properly address maintenance of our public facilities. Sadly, only 1 million was budgeted and approved by a 3-2 Council (Gaspar/Muir opposed). On both of those budgetary items, you either pay now or pay a much higher cost later. Road and infrastructure maintenance is a top priority of mine.
8. What action should the city be taking to address the Leucadia rail crossing issue. Should the tracks be lowered similar to Solana Beach or should there be level crossings, and how much of a priority should this be for the council?
Solving the rail crossing issue is a very complex and expensive problem. First, the City should make an attempt to determine this problem’s priority level by asking the citizens. If the data show that it is a high priority, the City should spend even more time investigating possible solutions. The City should also continue investigate means to fund the project with revenues from external sources because it cannot afford to fund the project alone. If the City is going to spend its own revenues on the project, it needs to consider whether or not it should be stripping money away from other improvements projects and key infrastructure maintenance that some may consider at least as important.
9. For the mayoral candidates, what do you see the role of an elected mayor as being and how would you put your personal stamp on the position?
As appointed Mayor, I have shown that the role begins with an open mind, and a common-sense approach to leadership and decision-making. It requires earning the respect of both Encinitas citizens and staff. I have the respect of Encinitas citizens, as well as the City staff, which is essential in maximizing organizational efficiency and bringing everyone together to make our City the best that it can be. The role as elected Mayor should involve the same approach to leadership. An honest Mayor should only promise what they can control, recognizing that there are more people involved in the decision-making process. I will continue to place my personal stamp on the position by exercising the management and leadership skills that I have acquired in both the private and public sector.
- The performance of several high-ranking city staff members, namely the City Manager, City Attorney and high-ranking planning department officials, has been a steady talking point during the election. How would you rate the performance of these staff members, what can be done to improve their performance, or do you believe at this stage they are irredeemable?
As Mayor, I am in the unique position of currently managing and evaluating the performance of the City Attorney and City Manager. Annually, two performance reviews are conducted and citizens can find information regarding evaluation criteria online. Although the next formal evaluation period is set for January, Council has requested that an additional review be conducted in November to capture feedback from seated Council Members prior to any potential changes in the Council due to the November election. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on the performance of the City Attorney and City Manager outside the formal review process which I am currently part of.
- Why should people vote for you?
People should vote for me because I am the most qualified candidate for Mayor.
I have the business, financial, and planning experience necessary to manage a City with a budget over $70 million. I have led with integrity– never making false promises and never placing one specific interest group’s needs above those of the City as a whole. As a Council Member and the City’s current Mayor, I have approached each issue with an open mind and balanced approach to leadership.
I have supported;
-Completing the Encinitas Community Park
-Upgrading Moonlight Beach
-Enhancing Fire Service
-Balanced budgets, while providing the highest quality service
-Measures to protect our environment
I have opposed;
-Underfunding key City services—roads, library, community center, and fire safety
-Proposed sales tax hike
-Led the Council effort to reject the high-density housing plan for New Encinitas
-The purchase of property at a price the City simply could not afford