Welcome to my new monthly column about local politics in Encinitas. When Kristin Gaspar announced her candidacy for county supervisor, the 2016 election became a regional and local focus for many Encinitas residents.
I decided to write this periodic commentary to offer some fact checking for commentaries published elsewhere, to educate residents about the issues and the election process, and to express my personal views.
The mayor and three Council members will be elected in 2016.
I do not plan to run again, and assuming Gaspar is one of the top two in the June Supervisor primary, the mayoral seat will not have an incumbent running. Catherine Blakespear’s term continues to 2018; Tony Kranz, Mark Muir, and I all have terms that expire in 2016.
So we will have at least my seat and possibly the mayor’s seat without incumbents. If Kranz or Muir or both run for mayor, there could be more Council seats open.
I hope the current Council is able to work together and get things done over the coming year with a minimum amount of overt campaigning.
The first few weeks with our new city manager make me hopeful that we can establish some shared goals for the next year and empower our staff to accomplish them.
The 2016 ballot will include the updated Housing Element as well as four Council seats.
It could be tempting for candidates to avoid taking a position, so as not to offend voters on either side of the housing issue.
Because we are out of compliance with state law, and under a court order to meet our affordable housing mandate, the only responsible position for current Council members is to commit to develop a plan that meets state requirements and can be certified by the Housing and Community Development.
We must then work as hard as we can, united as a Council, and with the Planning Commission as our partner, to explain and promote that plan.
Once it becomes a formal ballot initiative, we are prohibited from advocacy, but can continue educational efforts.
We don’t yet know exactly what our updated housing plan will look like, or how the ballot measure will be worded.
It will be our current Council that makes those decisions. It will take leadership, not just posturing, for us to develop and present a plan that voters will understand and approve.
We will have higher density zoning in areas of Encinitas, whether we vote for it or not — either we can control the process and do what serves our community best, or we can allow a judge to impose a plan on us. It’s our choice.
I would welcome emails suggesting topics you’d like to see in future columns.
I value the interest and commitment of all our residents to keeping Encinitas such a wonderful city.