Former Councilman Peter Zahn was unanimously appointed at the April 25 meeting to complete the remaining seven-month term of Mayor Ginger Marshall. Zahn was one of 10 applicants for the seat following the mayor’s unexpected resignation from City Council without explanation on April 5.
“I believe my experience and skills set me apart,” he said, noting that compared to two other candidates who had also previously served on council, his tenure ended the most recently.
Zahn did not seek re-election in 2016 after serving one term.
Zahn said some projects that came before him during his time on the dais are still under consideration and could be coming back for decisions and he’s kept up to date on the city’s work plan and budget.
“I’ve come before you quite a bit to speak since I left the council,” he added. “I’ve been deeply involved in the formation and implementation of our city’s community choice energy plan … as well as the city’s climate action plan.”
Zahn said he could “fairly and honestly represent all of the residents” because he was often the minority in many 4-1 votes.
“I’m comfortable taking unpopular positions if I believe it’s in the interest of our city’s residents,” Zahn said. “I’m able to hit the ground running and would be honored to serve.”
Other applicants included, Robert Secrest, Theodore Gildred, Gordon Moss, Erin McKinley, John Towart, Isiah Titus, Joel Sedeno, Jamaica Winship and former Councilman Joe Kellejian.
Three other residents withdrew their applications.
“He can step into this role immediately,” Councilwoman Lesa Heebner, who was appointed April 11 to fill the seat left vacant by Mike Nichols’ sudden resignation, said before recommending Zahn.
“I worked with him for four years,” she added. “We didn’t always agree on everything. … I have a great deal of respect for Peter on how he approaches issues and works through them and conducts himself.”
Councilwoman Jewel Edson said his experience as an attorney will also serve the city well.
Four people spoke in favor of appointing Zahn, including former Councilman Richard Hendlin, who told council members he withdrew his name after learning Zahn was in the running.
Of the 39 emails the city received, 28 supported Zahn and 11 supported Kellejian.
When Marshall stepped down she was serving as mayor, a position that rotates annually in Solana Beach. Deputy Mayor Dave Zito is running the meetings.
The city clerk said is it up to council members to decide whether they want to appoint someone else as mayor.
Heebner, who did not seek re-election in 2016 after three terms on council, and Zahn said they will not run in the November election, when the terms of Nichols and Marshall were set to end.