New Encinitas mayor, council sworn in; open seat will be an appointed one

Encinitas is now accepting applications for appointment to the City Council seat vacated by Councilmember Catherine Blakespear’s election as mayor.

At a special City Council meeting on Dec. 13 meeting, it was unanimously decided to appoint a new Council member rather than hold a special election to fill the remaining two years in Blakespear’s term.

A special election, Council members agreed, would be too costly. A full special election would cost at least $460,000, and even an all-mail election would cost around $320,000.

The meeting was highlighted by the swearing in of Blakespear as the city’s second elected mayor, succeeding Kristin Gaspar, who was elected to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, representing the Third District.

In the Nov. 8 election, Blakespear defeated Paul Gaspar, a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Kristin Gaspar’s husband, 67.24 percent to 32.76 percent.

Paul Gaspar only ran a four-month campaign; he announced his intention to run for mayor in July, five months after Blakespear.

In official returns certified earlier this month by the San Diego County registrar of voters, Blakespear received a total of 21,083 votes to 10,270 for Paul Gaspar.

Also sworn in were re-elected Councilmembers Tony Kranz and Mark Muir, and former planning commissioner Tasha Boerner Horvath, who bested businessman Phil Graham and planning commissioner Tony Brandenburg, for the third open City Council seat.

Councilmember Lisa Shaffer did not seek re-election.

In the final vote count, Kranz finished first among the five City Council candidates, with 14,511 votes, or 22.62 percent of the total.

Boerner Horvath finished a close second, with 14,051 votes, or 21.9 percent.

Muir finished third, with 13,553 votes (21.13 percent).

Kranz also was appointed deputy mayor.

Applications to complete the Council term vacated by Blakespear’s election as mayor, which ends in December 2017, are available on the city website.

The deadline for submitting applications is Jan. 4, 2017, at 5:00 p.m.

All applicants are required to attend the Jan. 11, 2017 City Council meeting “to discuss their qualifications and interest in serving on the City Council,” according to a city notice. “ Depending on the number of applicants, appointment may be made at the same Council meeting or a subsequent meeting date. An applicant must be 18 years of age and a citizen of the State of California. An applicant must be a resident and registered voter of the City of Encinitas. A person is disqualified from holding any office upon conviction of designated crimes as specified in the Constitution and the laws of the state of California.”

Council members are paid $1,186 per month.

If the Council is deadlocked, 2-2, on selecting a new member, then a special election will be called.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, two speakers suggested the council appoint Brandenburg to the open City Council seat, citing his opposition to Measure T, the unsuccessful ballot measure to adopt a housing element supported by all other Council members and candidates.

“Let’s make sure there is a balance here on the housing element and a long-term vision for Encinitas,” said Bruce Ehlers, co-chair of the Committee Opposed to Measure T. “One of the key decisions you’ll be making is what to put back on the ballot. So I recommend appointing a No on T person, who would better reflect the electorate…. The only person I can think of is Tony Brandenburg.”

Sheila Cameron, a former appointed mayor, also threw her support behind Brandenburg.

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