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Gaspar, Blakespear sworn in; Barth given emotional sendoff

ENCINITAS — Kristin Gaspar was sworn in as Encinitas first elected mayor and Catherine Blakespear was sworn in to the City Council on a Tuesday night that saw the community give former Councilwoman Teresa Barth an emotional sendoff.

The City Council formally certified the results of the election, which saw Gaspar defeat four challengers for the two-year elected mayor post, Blakespear emerge from a four-candidate field to essentially replace Barth, who did not seek re-election, and voters vote down Measure F, an initiative that would have legalized medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

In a symbolic show of bipartisanship, Gaspar recommended- and the council unanimously approved — Blakespear’s appointment to the deputy mayor post. This was a far cry from previous mayoral and deputy-mayoral appointments, which often struck a bitter tone for a council that was historically known for its acrimony.

Gaspar said she thought the deputy mayor post would help Blakespear — an estate planning attorney and former traffic commissioner — “get her feet wet” as the council’s junior member.

“I think that after an election, there is a certain amount of healing that has to take place,” Gaspar said. “We need to demonstrate that most of the time, this is a 5-0 council,” Gaspar said. “We need to demonstrate that we are all willing to work together.”

Blakespear paid tribute to her political mentor, Barth, in her brief introductory remarks.

“I was so impressed by Teresa was she was basically a normal person who devoted herself to service, and it seemed that it was service and not egoism that was driving her, and she had this great grasp of city issues that was both broad and deep, and I found that very inspirational,” Blakespear said about meeting Barth in 2010 at a meet-and-greet.  “I really do credit her with inspiring me in the beginning.”

Following the certification of the election, Barth exited the council dais, as her nameplate was replaced by her protégé, Blakespear. But that was not before supporters, family and friends paid tribute to her for her years of service.

A packed council chambers paid tribute to Barth, who did not seek re-election after serving eight years on the council, with proclamations and gifts, including a proposed grove of trees in Barth’s honor at Glen Park in Cardiff.

Following the 45-minute series of presentations, Barth said goodbye to her colleagues and urged them to continue to forge the path of civility the group the council had started in 2012 when Jerome Stocks was voted out of office.

“I think we did step away from a path that was not productive for the city,” Barth said. “We have a responsibility to be nice to each other. We will not succeed if we continue to be critical of one another.”

Groups such as the Leucadia and Cardiff town councils, Encinitas Friends of the Arts, the Main Street associations, representatives from U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and State Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside) and Supervisor Dave Roberts were among the people to pay tribute to Barth, a longtime employee of the 22nd Agricultural District before being elected to the council in 2006, when she finished second in a field of five candidates.

The County Board of Supervisors unanimously named Tuesday Teresa Barth Day, Roberts told the council as he presented Barth with a certificate for her service.

Among the more emotional moments was when a large group of friends, supporters and the entire council flanked Barth off of the dais and presented her with a faux tree with paper leaves that had the names of people who have contributed to the “Teresa Barth Grove.”

The recently created fund will help pay for the proposed grove of trees next to the Boy Scout House at the Cardiff park. Lisa Shaffer became choked up as she read a poem about the grove.

Barth called the moment “super special.”