ENCINITAS — Anne Omsted says her epitaph will most likely read, “Third Mayor of Encinitas.”
She’d rather be remembered for work that led to cityhood for Encinitas in 1986, and the establishment of a sound government that included a vision of a state-of-the-art library. More importantly, she hopes people will be motivated to follow her and others.
“You can watch what goes on in Washington, D.C., on cable television, but it’s local government that touches you in day-to-day life,” she said.
Omsted says her involvement in public service began in the early 1980s when she joined the League of Women Voters.
“That’s why I ran for City Council,” she said. “I learned how government works. It involves systems, and I love systems.”
Omsted ran for City Council twice before the city finally became incorporated in 1986. She was installed with Marjorie Gaines, Rick Shea, Gerald Steel and Greg Luke.
“It was so much fun because we had to put together a new city,” she says looking back.
Being on the City Council also meant serving on the board of the Cardiff Sanitation District, the Encinitas Sanitation District, the San Dieguito Water District and the Encinitas Fire Protection District.
“I had to do homework for five boards every week,” she said. “There were many contentious meetings that went on until 1 or 2 a.m. I enjoyed 95 percent of the job, but I am just not good after 9 p.m.”
Omsted served as mayor in 1989 and in 1992 resigned to tend to her other interests as co-founder
of Batiguitos Lagoon Foundation and the Coastal Commission Foundation. She also became a founding member of the Friends of the Encinitas Library in 1984 and today serves as president.
“The early 1980s was a good time to live here because we had a strong sense of taking responsibility for a problem,” she remembers. “The budget was smaller and we had to fight with the Board of Supervisors for money that had to be split between the library and the fire department.”
The Friends group was established as a means of generating additional funds for the library through the sales of donated books. Profits went to purchase large print books, Spanish language child and adult books, rocking chair children’s books, music cassettes and a dictionary table.
“Maybe we’d raise $5,000 to $6,000 a year,” she said, adding that the group was able to save $96,000 in anticipation for the opening of a new library. This was matched by the Board of Supervisors.
“We had a much larger collection on opening day than they would have otherwise,” she said.
Today, Omsted says the group raises $50,000 to $60,000 annually. Friends’ success is especially timely in view of budget cuts in the library.
There are 58 volunteers in Friends bookstore and 14 board members.
“When I ran for City Council in 1986 one of the first acts was a study to build a new library,” she said looking back. “I always tried to keep the idea fresh. Now other people are carrying the banner.”
Meanwhile Omsted continues her work with the League of Women Voters with the hope of educating and motivating the electorate to get involved with government as well.
Roni Seay is co-president of the League of Women Voters San Diego County.
“Anne is an outstanding leader,” she said. “Her superb research skills enable her to give in-depth presentations to educate voters about diverse issues and propositions. Anne is passionate about disseminating accurate, nonpartisan information to voters before they cast their ballots. She is very smart, organized, focused and great fun to work with!”