CARLSBAD — It’s no secret that members of the Carlsbad City Council and city staff know there’s going to be a void when Mayor Pro Tem Ann Kulchin steps down from her position in December. After serving the City Council for 32 years, Kulchin has decided the time is right from someone else to occupy her seat.
Not to run another term wasn’t difficult, but in the same breath, it’s a bittersweet moment.
“They say the time to go is when people don’t want you to go,” Kulchin said. “I am being hugged by strangers telling me I have done a good job.”
Kulchin calls the timing of her choice something of a natural flow. Carlsbad City Clerk Lorraine Wood is taking Kulchin’s seat while Councilman Keith Blackburn is returning for another term.
A Carlsbad City Council election was not needed this year since nobody else filed to run.
Wood said she has learned much from watching Kulchin over the last decade.
“Ann shaped this city into the amazing community we have today and no one will fill her shoes,” Wood said. “We can try to maintain and build on the legacy Ann leaves us.”
Wood went on to say that Kulchin has supported everyone with her wisdom, time and pure love for Carlsbad.
“Ann knows hard work. She can start her day at the crack of dawn and end it late at night,” Wood said.
She continued, “Ann never complains because Carlsbad is her labor of love.”
Kulchin, who grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., never thought she’d become involved in politics. Back in the day, she said, there were three vocations for women: a nun, a nurse, or a teacher.
“I knew a nun was out for me because I liked boys,” she said.
After giving nursing a try, she realized that wasn’t a match either.
Instead, teaching became part of her early career for about seven years.
As far as politics was concerned, she just fell into it.
“I think education is a gateway to politics, because in politics, you are explaining things to people; and, you are always learning, reading and staying current,” she said.
Although she “fell into,” her government career, Kulchin received top honors such as Woman of the Year, California Women in Government’s Tribute to Women Award, Who’s Who in California, and a State of Israel Outstanding Participation Award.
Carlsbad City Attorney Ron Ball admits learning much from merely observing Kulchin over time.
“Without a doubt, Ann has brought charm, a quick wit, and highly developed people skills,” Ball said. “If there was a person that Ann didn’t know she made a point of getting to know that person by taking steps to meet them and getting them into the Carlsbad family.”
Ball added she brought fame and fortune to Carlsbad.
One of Ball’s earliest memories of Kulchin was commissioning the seawall with a bottle of champagne. Ball called Kulchin instrumental in acquiring the grants to get it constructed.
“I thought to myself, ‘Boy, this is a lady who knows how to get things done,’” Ball said.
Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall said Kulchin’s best strengths have been her stability, ability to listen to the community and looking at the positive side of things.
Kulchin’s presence and support have been unparallel for Hall.
“Ann is someone I have always been able to go to bounce things off of and to get a differing opinion,” Hall said. “She has always been there, is someone who knows the history of the community and that helps when you want to rethink an item or issue.”
Not only has Kulchin been a Carlsbad leader, Hall shared, but also a leader throughout the San Diego region. A handful of these areas include CalCoast board of directors, Encina Wastewater Authority board member and past chair, SANDAG board member, American Shore and Beach Preservation Association past director, American Coastal Coalition past director, Buena Vista Lagoon Join Powers Committee past member, North County Transit District alternate and much more.
“Ann was there when they bought trains for the Coaster and helped get sand on our beaches more than once,” Hall said.
An ongoing thrill for Kulchin is witnessing the accomplishments and strides in Carlsbad while realizing that “making things happen” is always a “we” effort.
“I’ve stayed in local government for so long because I love it and Carlsbad has been a beautiful place to serve,” she said.