The Coast News Group

Tom Pearson: man in perpetual motion

DEL MAR — Tom Pearson, best known for the fact he is the city’s only five-term mayor, was recently honored by the county Board of Supervisors when it unanimously declared Feb. 27, 2009, to be Tom Pearson Day throughout the county. The former mayor was in the supervisors’ chambers to receive the colorful proclamation.
Pearson is unlike some electeds who warm a seat on the dais and contribute very little for the good of the community. They do attend ribbon cuttings and get their picture taken lottsa times.
The former mayor became a man of action from the day he drove into the city from La Jolla and was distracted by several billboards along the bluff that erased the ocean view. He later was responsible for the prohibition of billboards within the city limits.
One of the boards on that visit advertised a delicious, mouth-watering turkey dinner. His assessment after treating his family to dinner was that it barely qualified as a one-star hash house.
In spite of this first encounter, Pearson decided the village was an excellent place for he and his wife, Christine, to raise a family and son Paul later was born in the village.
He came to the village in 1958 to work for General Atomic as a nuclear engineer, a degree he had received at MIT.
Almost immediately he became active in the effort to incorporate the village and this was followed by his appointment to the planning commission where he saw the need for a design review board that would assist planners in the early stages of a project. Through his efforts one was formed.
His time wasn’t limited to city government. He was scoutmaster of Troop 713, led a successful March of Dimes campaign and in his spare time planted Torrey pines on 15th Street and throughout the city. As an active member of the Civic Association, he led a campaign to build public tennis courts that are in constant use today.
Ranking high on his list of achievements he was responsible for acquiring the first phase of Seagrove Park at the foot of 15th Street where a resort hotel was planned.
Pearson ruffled the hair of Del Mar Turf Club officials who were bent on building a resort facility on the water front that is now Dog Beach. He convinced Jim Scripps and Helen Woodward to acquire the property on the north side of the bluff and turn it into the Del Mar Bluffs Preserve. Through all of this Pearson has remained on good terms with the racetrack and 22nd District Agricultural Association.
It’s no surprise that he has been writing his memoir for the past decade. Until now there has been no urgency to get it finished but with the city’s anniversary celebration actively being planned, his friends would like to see it published during the festivities.
John Wingate, owner of En Fuego Restaurant and Pearson’s close friend, is doing the prodding. Pearson met him when Wingate innocently decided to replace portions of a leaky roof without going through the bureaucratic process. Pearson patiently walked him through the long procedure.
When the book is available it will be “must read” for folks who want to know how the village became a city and who helped to make it a great one.