ENCINITAS — A standing room only crowd in Encinitas City Council chambers laugh, cried and applauded as they said goodbye to Mayor Kristin Gaspar and Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer and watched as Mayor Catherine Blakespear and the new council were sworn in.
By the end of the night, the new City Council had unanimously voted for Tony Kranz to serve as deputy mayor and to start the process of appointing a fifth member to fill the remaining two years of Blakespear’s council term.
And in between, outgoing County Supervisor Dave Roberts extended a proverbial olive branch to Gaspar, who defeated him for the Dist. 3 supervisor seat, as he pledged to work with her as she transitions into his seat in January, and also conveyed the county’s declaration of Nov. 13 as “Lisa Shaffer Day” countywide.
“We put our differences aside to make the process work,” Roberts said about the election, which saw him lose his seat by just over 1,000 votes countywide, one of the smallest margins of defeat on record, becoming the first sitting supervisor to lose election in 32 years. “Let’s all get behind our county supervisor.”
The night began with friends, family, former and current elected officials and stakeholders praising the outgoing duo of Shaffer and Gaspar. Shaffer did not seek re-election after a single term.
The two were showered with flowers and other gifts and knickknacks, including several that drew laughs from the crowd.
Danny Salzhandler, president of the 101 Artists Colony, gave Shaffer a large book entitled “Pacific View Improvements,” a nod to Shaffer’s support of the elementary school site purchase and active role in the upkeep of the site, and brought Gaspar a giant calendar so she could keep up with her busy schedule as supervisor.
Roberts also spoke during the public comment period. He offered himself of service to Gaspar in his new role as private citizen, and said that the transition thus far has been very smooth.
Several people commended Roberts for his graciousness following the meeting.
The City Council then honored the outgoing members with two PowerPoint presentations highlighting the strengths of Gaspar and Shaffer. Councilman Mark Muir commended Gaspar for her strong devotion to her family, her versatility and her passion for community service.
Tony Kranz likened Shaffer, with whom he campaigned with successfully in 2012, to Dr. Seuss’ “Lorax” character, who spoke for the trees. Kranz said that Shaffer’s passion for the environment and willingness to speak her mind would be missed on the council.
Blakespear commended Gaspar for her ability to run meetings, and also said that her experiences were largely positive, even after a bitterly contested mayoral race in which she defeated Gaspar’s husband, Paul. She also praised Shaffer’s wealth of experience and knowledge that she brought to the council, which she said will create a void that the new council will be hard pressed to fill.
Shaffer and Gaspar then addressed the crowd with emotional farewell messages.
“Thank you is the simplest thing to say,” Shaffer said before acknowledging staff and the community and reading a farewell poem.
“Plastic bags are no longer, e-cigarettes banned, commissions have new faces and power,” she said in one of the stanzas. “Bars get more scrutiny, no so out of hand, Moonlight Beach will soon have a new tower.
“We struggled with land use, you have to be rich to afford any kind of abode,” she continued. “Updating our zoning is really a bitch, as we try to improve on our code.”
“I am leaving the council in excellent hands, thanks to Catherine, Tasha and Tony,” Shaffer continued. “And Mark of course, with open space planned, and Karen who won’t take any baloney.
Shaffer choked up as she read the final stanza of the poem.
“So thank you for helping me over the years, thanks for caring about our great town,” she said. “I leave you with pride and I leave you with tears, I love you and now I step down.”
The audience responded with a standing ovation.
Gaspar followed with a tear-filled address in which she thanked her family, city staff, the council and the community, who supported her during her six years of service.
“I can tell you the pleasure has been all mine,” Gaspar said. “I am really proud of us as a council, too.”
She urged the public to approach the newly seated council with an open mind.
“For the incoming council, you have four years to make a difference, and the community I want them to get behind you and I will get behind you 100 percent too,” she said. “And my message to the community is, give us the benefit of the doubt, at least initially…If we can be patient with one another, and especially with the new council give them some time to be great together and I wish you nothing but the best of success.”
After Shaffer and Gaspar collected their gifts and left the dais, City Clerk Kathy Hollywood administered the oath of office to the new mayor and three council members- Muir, Kranz and Tasha Boerner Horvath, a former planning commissioner.
The council quickly moved to name Kranz, the highest vote-getter in the election, the deputy mayor, and voted to start the appointment process to fill Blakespear’s vacancy.
Two people — “No on T” committee chair Bruce Ehlers and former Mayor Sheila Cameron — urged the council to appoint Tony Brandenburg, who finished in fifth place during the election but, more importantly in their mind, was the lone candidate to oppose the housing element ballot measure, which failed on Nov. 8.
“There needs to be a balance on the council,” Ehlers said. “Right now, there is no one who represents a large segment of the electorate.”
The council declined to make an immediate appointment, but said they would accept all applications.
Persons interested in applying for the council seat can find the application by visiting the city’s website at encinitasca.gov. Applications are due Jan. 4.
Hollywood said the council would tentatively interview the candidates at the Jan. 18 council meeting and could also host a special meeting on Jan. 25 if the council needed more time to decide on a candidate.
If the council is unable to agree on a candidate after 60 days, the city would be required to host a special election.