ENCINITAS — Twelve of the 13 applicants to fill the vacant seat on the five-member City Council individually addressed the council during a regular meeting Oct. 26. Alice Jacobson did not attend, citing a scheduling conflict.
During the five-minute speeches that varied from the heavily scripted to the off-the-cuff humorous remarks, applicants outlined the reasons each wanted to serve out the term of longtime councilwoman Maggie Houlihan who died from cancer Sept. 16.
Tony Brandenburg, a current member of the city’s planning commission called the seat a “coveted position.” At age 18 he hitchhiked to San Diego and figured out that his rural roots were conflicting with the bustling city. He took a bus north and settled in Encinitas. “I knew Encinitas was my home,” he said.
Brandenburg told the council he doesn’t have the answers to the issues that face the city, but said with cooperation from council and public he would help find solutions. “Both Encinitas and I have changed, “ he said.
Like some other applicants who spoke, Brandenburg paid homage to Houlihan. “Nobody would suggest they could replace Ms. Houlihan,” he said. “The lady was a gift, a jewel.
“I can’t tell you that I am or that I will,” he said when Barth asked if he would run for the seat in 2012.
Councilwoman Kristin Gaspar asked all of the applicants the same question about problem solving and working with all council members in a positive way to build consensus rather than division.
Robert Campbell, a member of the city’s Senior Citizens Commission answered by saying, “I start by listening to people…I’ve turned around four major companies in Southern California and you don’t do that without listening to people.”
He said the seat belongs to someone who can “listen, take notes and be prepared to brief the person who will be elected by the public.”
David Drielsma, a retired schoolteacher said he would work through “compromise, compromise, compromise.” He said his experience as a teacher taught him to listen to all sides of all the arguments. He does not intend to run for the seat in 2012.
Ken Harrison also vowed not to seek election in 2012. The founding member of Cardiff Town Council wrote the original incorporation documents in 1982. “‘I will vote with an open mind and an open heart,’ that’s a throw away line every politician uses,” he said. “I’m the only one to publicly endorse both Teresa Barth and Dan Dalager in the same election,” he said to laughs in the packed audience. He did so with a good conscience because he said they were good people. “I will not do anything stupid to mess up this city,” he promised.
Joann Hoffman, founder of a public health research firm who promises not to seek election said she would ask herself, “What would Maggie do?” when deciding on issues.
Joel King, also a member of the city’s Senior Citizens Commission with a background in finance told the council his goal was to “strive to make Encinitas one of the best places to live in California if not the United States.” He left the option open to run in 2012.
Tony Kranz, who placed third in his bid for City Council in 2010 said he received 8,870 votes. Through “open and vigorous deliberation,” he said he would do what’s best for the community. “I’m a big advocate of open government,” he said. “I’m sorry we’re here doing this tonight, I’d rather have Maggie filling her own term.” He said he does plan to run in 2012.
Alan Lerchbacker, a 26-year veteran of the Navy said his experience has taught him to listen, care and respect others. He expressed an interest in running in 2012.
Kent Mesplay said he believes in creating a more approachable government. He spoke to his background in emergency management. He said he is leaving open the idea of running in 2012. He’s also a Green Party Presidential candidate. “I’ve long believed in consensus,” he said. “It can be difficult but it’s better in the long run.”
Mark Muir, the city’s current Fire Chief has served 24 years in the city’s fire department in various capacities. “As a member of the City Council I would be able to hit the ground running,” he said.
“I believe we have a great staff, great city and a great future.” Would resign from Olivenhain Municipal Water District board and retire as fire chief if appointed. He is interested in running for the seat in 2012.
Robert Schneider, a native Nebraskan, moved back to Encinitas in 2004 after retirement. He said he would consider running only if, after six months, the full council was satisfied with his performance.
“Maybe we saved the best for last, I hope,” Lisa Shaffer said as she approached the microphone. Houlihan contacted her in March 2011, saying Shaffer was the best person to replace her on the council to carry on her legacy. Shaffer said she is known for her integrity, generosity and ability to get things done. Schaffer said she would work towards a “sustainable future for our wonderful city.” She decared her intention to run in 2012.
Bernard Minster said he was impressed by the quality of applicants. The longtime resident encouraged the council to choose an applicant based on their decision-making abilities, who was action oriented, had broad based communications skills and budgeting knowledge.
Bruce Ehlers, Houlihan’s former campaign manager in all three elections said he was in a unique position to determine who would best represent her constituents.
He said that the two applicants who would not represent Houlihan’s constituents were Muir and Jacobson, both supported Prop A, while Houlihan opposed the measure. Ehlers also noted the inherent conflict in Muir’s active political support of both Deputy Mayor Jerome Stocks and Mayor James Bond. Ehlers said he supports Muir’s right to run in an open election but not to serve as an appointee by those who are in essence his employers.
The council will make an appointment on Nov. 2 and swear in the newest councilmember on Nov. 9.