11/2/20: A Letter From a Formerly Undecided Voter

Yesterday I received the email below from Denise Jackson, entitled “Encinitas Mayoral Election.” 

I asked if I could share her note with you, along with my reply, and she agreed. Thank you, Denise, for your candid and useful feedback!

Dear Mayor Blakespear,

Although I sifted through all of the referendums and researched the candidates on the ballot, I let the ballot sit for weeks. My delay was because I could not decide who to vote for Encinitas Mayor. I finally decided that I would vote for you again. I thought I would explain why and my reluctance to do so in the hopes that if you are re-elected, it will make a difference in the future in your approach and actions.

This is why I voted for you: 

You are smart and politically savvy. This combination has benefitted Encinitas, its citizens, and of course, you professionally. I have lived here for 20 years, and you have elevated Encintias’ profile in the County and the State – thank you. I don’t want Encinitas to go backwards, and [to] lose this ground that has been gained which is what I fear if you are not re-elected.

This is why I almost did not vote for you:

Sometimes I believe that you are not listening to us – so confident that you know better than those you represent. You often do undoubtedly as you navigate the complex laws and regulations of our State and region – the whole housing situation comes to mind. There are some times though when I feel you are not really listening to us. The redesign of PCH and the bike lanes come to mind as example. As a working professional, a triathlete and beach lover who lives in your neighborhood, the Composer district, I am on the stretch of PCH from Encinitas to Solana Beach daily. The new design has put lives in peril, especially for pedestrians that must share a very narrow lane with bikes. The “curbs” make it impossible for people to adjust or change course without further exposing themselves to injury/accident.

A sign of a great leader and just a good person is to admit when they are wrong. I read your newsletter and I do recall that there was some issue in which your proposal was modified after you had fought hard on it. You indicated something like it was a better solution. My point is I know you have the capacity to admit when you were wrong; I wish you would listen and adjust more and yes, even at times, say you made a mistake. 

I will lead by example. I did not want that paved sidewalk along Vulcan. I used the dirt paths all the time and enjoyed the rural feel. However, I am overjoyed by the vast number of our citizens that now also get to enjoy what we are so fortunate to experience everyday. It is not perfect: I am still waiting for them to reinstall the palm trees that they mistakenly tore down during construction and for other shrubbery to be planted. However, this was a win for ALL of Encinitas. Thank you bringing us a real rail trail.

I know being Mayor isn’t easy. With gratitude for all that you have done for Encinitas, 

Denise Jackson


Hi Denise,

Thank you for sitting down to write me [this] email. I take the opportunity to hear it with an open heart and mind. I want to thank you for your ultimate decision to support me for re-election. 

When I reflect on myself I believe that I do listen, and I don’t feel that I know better. My honest reflection is that on almost all issues there is a split community – with some wanting a rail trail, a homeless parking lot or protected bike lanes, and others who don’t want those things. When I listen to the community, I hear a loud chorus of a variety of opinions. 

I think your example of the rail trail is a good one. You were opposed to it initially because the trail worked for you as it was. But now that it’s built you see how many people enjoy using it and you support it. 

I’m always trying to think about the collective. From my viewing of the Highway 101 protected bike [lane], there are a lot more families, kids, surfers, dog walkers now then there were before, when it was a wide open road with no protection from cars for those walking or on bikes. I know that the “road warriors” have undoubtedly given something up and I feel for them. I truly get it – for them the road worked better before the protected bike lanes because they felt safe next to the speeding cars. But when I think about the collective, which includes more than sport cyclists, the new road works better for more people. It’s more inclusive of different road users who are trying to get to the beach or beyond.

Maybe you don’t agree with this. But I think my main point is that I always try to be guided by the collective, and this comes fundamentally from listening to people. At the end of the day, doing this job with integrity to me means that I listen and gather feedback in a true and authentic way and then make decisions that are in the best interest of the entire community. 

Additionally, I think it’s worth noting that very few elected officials provide the type of transparency into their thought process that I do. My newsletter is intimate to a degree that I don’t see replicated by others who serve in elected office. While I know residents appreciate this for the information and insight it provides, it also results in more scrutiny and criticism at times. I directly account for and am held to account for the decisions I make. 

As you noted, I have acknowledged when I feel I’ve made mistakes and I hope and intend to continue doing that. 

I appreciate that you took such time to think this through. And I hope you continue to keep in touch with me about your thoughts. I’m deeply grateful for highly engaged people, who remain respectful and able to communicate honestly with me about sensitive subjects. Thank you!

I hope you have a great day Denise. And thank you again for the support. 

All my best,