This week I participated in the first forum in the Encinitas race for mayor. It was especially meaningful on the 17th anniversary of 9/11 to be able to participate in this vital exercise in local democracy. It was also inspiring to look out onto an audience of engaged residents who took the time to spend their evening with us.
My sole opponent is John Paul Elliott, a 71-year-old self-described “Metaphysical Broker” who moved to Leucadia from Riverside County a few months ago and had lived in Encinitas years ago.
He’s a very nice, colorful character with a very sweet dog, but he doesn’t seem to have a clear understanding of how cities operate. As a result, it was sometimes difficult for me to ascertain the substance behind his positions and some of his strongly held opinions seemed to be in direct conflict with one another.
Regardless, I was glad to answer a variety of questions posed by the audience, hopefully making our policies and priorities in Encinitas clearer to residents. This pleasant and civil forum was a great opportunity to hear which issues are important to Encinitas residents – most of the questions centered around housing and transportation.
Thanks to the Cardiff Town Council and the League of Women Voters for making this event possible!
The photo above – with the staging, surreal red coloring, contrasting water bottles, and the straight expression of Elliot’s dog Coco, could have been from one of several avant-garde movies or television shows. The image was captured by my campaign manager, Scott Chatfield, and is so stylized and yet so completely unstaged that it’s worth highlighting.
SANDAG chooses a new director
This week featured big county news from several boards on which I sit.
For the last year, the county-wide transportation and planning agency known as SANDAG has been without a permanent executive director. This week we hired a national heavyweight – Hasan Ikhrata – who has been running the equivalent agency in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. His previous agency known as SCAG manages 191 jurisdictions with 19 million people, and SANDAG, in contrast, has 19 jurisdictions with 3.5 million people.
His expertise, breadth of accomplishments, proven track record, tremendous contacts and outstanding interview made him the clear top choice. This hire should allow SANDAG to turn a corner and move away from its past difficulties.
Julian headed for professional vs. volunteer firefighters
As a member of the LAFCO (The Local Area Formation Commission) board, we unanimously supported moving one step closer to having the Julian area’s fire service covered by the county.
LAFCO makes decisions about local governmental boundaries, including dissolving special districts like the Julian Cuyama Fire Protection District.
This dissolution was the highest profile issue I’ve dealt with yet on the LAFCO board. The Julian fire department is the last volunteer fire department in the county.
From my reading of the staff report and the presentations, there was no question that Julian-Cuyamaca and the entire county would be better served and protected by having professional firefighters perform this vital role. The equipment, staffing, continuity of service and financial stability of the county fire service is far superior to what can be provided by the local volunteers.
Long-term, the volunteer department did not appear financially viable, with no funds for equipment replacement, plus current operations that are not meeting existing safety standards. Operating a modern fire department is an expensive venture. The budget for the services offered in this area will go from about $200,000 a year to $2 million a year.
The county expanding its fire service here will result in a decrease in Julian residents’ property taxes, plus the county will pay off the debt on the new fire station. Rejecting the county’s offer would be like turning down a free fire department that provides superior service.
Raw emotions and heated rhetoric were on display at times during this LAFCO meeting. Deeply felt divisions in any community are difficult to witness because the personal animosities and shared acrimony between people who used to be friends and are still neighbors cleaves the community. However, this definitely appears to be the right decision. Here’s the San Diego Union-Tribune article.
Goodbye gun shows (maybe)
This week I attended and spoke at the state board that makes decisions about the events hosted at the fairgrounds in Del Mar. The board voted 8-1 to follow the committee recommendation. That means there will be two remaining gun shows — Sept. 29 and 30, and Dec. 8 and 9.
After that, the board voted to approve no new gun shows until the board decides whether to adopt a proposed new policy that allows the events “for only education and training safety purposes and bans the possession of guns and ammunition on state property.”
One detail that has been overlooked in nearly every news article I’ve read or heard is that the committee recommendation would allow the sale of guns at the gun show, even though the guns themselves wouldn’t be present. I urged them to consider the alternative of prohibiting commercial gun sales entirely, making the event exclusively education and gun-safety related.
The amount of gun violence in our nation – 30,000 deaths annually and 80,000 non-fatal injuries – is directly tied to the number and type of guns in circulation. I agree wholeheartedly with Assemblymember Todd Gloria’s letter to the Board, which ended with, “I believe it is imperative to remove the State, to the extent possible, from complicity in these tragedies by restricting gun shows at the Del Mar fairgrounds.”
The fair board’s decision is a great step and should be applauded. The tremendous advocacy of Moms Demand Action and other groups (seen in orange in the photo) deserves a lot of credit. Change happens when a community demands action.
More information can be found in this San Diego Union-Tribune article.
Gala in the garden
(Photos by McKenzie Images)
Together with several members of the City Council, our city manager Karen Brust (top) and about 800 other people, we celebrated the retirement and 24 years of service of executive director Julian Duval at the San Diego Botanic Garden’s annual Gala in the Garden. On the bottom, my husband Jeremy and I are pictured with legacy Encinitas locals Tom and Peggy Cozens.
And finally, the campaign for my re-election is continuing to gather momentum for the final six week push! Thank you for all contributions and offers to display a yard sign. You can do either of those things here and I would be grateful if you would!
Please help us onward to victory!
P.S. Inspired Patriots!
September features Constitution Week and of course, Sept. 11. My daughter’s fifth grade class created American flags using the specifications Betsy Ross followed, specifically 13 white stars on a blue background and 13 alternating red and white stripes. You can see the great creativity from these young patriots, and how many different ways our flag might have looked if they were in charge!
Important upcoming events
Today, Sunday, Sept. 16, 3 p.m.: Second and final Measure U Forum. Encinitas Library. Same format as above – one speaker in favor of the housing plan and one opposed.
Tuesday, Sept. 25, 6 p.m.: District 3 City Council Candidate Forum. The only public opportunity to hear exclusively from the two District 3 city council candidates, incumbent Mark Muir and challenger Jody Hubbard.
Sunday, Sept. 30, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Oktoberfest on Mountain Vista Drive in New Encinitas. Many candidates for office have booths here and participate in the parade. It’s a great chance to talk with multiple candidates all in one spot. Plus, it’s a family-oriented blast! I hope to meet you there in the midst of the festivities at Booth M23.
Wed., Oct. 3, 7 p.m.: Olivenhain Candidate Forum at the Olivenhain Meeting Hall. This forum involves the two District 4 candidates, incumbent Joe Mosca and challenger Tony Brandenburg, plus the two mayoral candidates.
And of course…
Tuesday, Nov. 6: Election day! Vote!