DEL MAR — Having just stepped down after serving 12 years on City Council, Crystal Crawford’s relationship with Del Mar has, by her own account, come full circle.
“My first involvement with the city was as special counsel in the early ‘90s and here I am again,” Crawford said at the Jan. 3 meeting just before council members authorized an agreement with her to provide pro bono legal services for the purchase of the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
As a council member, Crawford was part of the city’s negotiating team when discussions with the governor’s office to buy the facility from the state began in mid-2009.
“Crystal was with us at the very beginning,” said Councilman Mark Filanc, who replaced Crawford on the fairgrounds subcommittee.
“It was through her experience and expertise at negotiating that got us this far,” he said. “I think it’s an awesome opportunity.”
His colleagues agreed.
“You have been involved with this since the beginning so you’re the right person to continue it,” Councilwoman Lee Haydu told Crawford.
“We really can take advantage of the numerous political connections you have in Sacramento and … a presence there may be critical in the final stages of this process,” Mayor Don Mosier said.
According to the agreement, Crawford will “advise, represent, appear and act for” the city in its efforts to purchase the property. She will be one of several attorneys representing Del Mar, with all legal counsel overseen by the city attorney.
The city has agreed to reimburse Crawford for preapproved, out-of-town travel expenses such as airfare, hotel and meals, primarily to testify at Assembly and Senate hearings in Sacramento.
Although the term of the agreement is indefinite, Crawford said the city should know one way or the other where it stands within 90 days. She also stressed that she will take direction from City Council.
“I don’t act independently,” she said. “I will not be making any representations absent your express direction.”
Councilman Terry Sinnott thanked Crawford for acting as many residents in the city do.
“We have a number of folks in the community with talent and expertise that come forward and you’re basically following the Del Mar tradition of volunteering to help out on city projects and this is a big one,” he said.
“Even though I’m off the council, my commitment to community service doesn’t end,” Crawford said. “My desire to contribute goes on.”
Crawford moved to Del Mar in 1992 while working as special counsel for the city. She was appointed to the Design Review Board in 1994 and successfully ran for City Council four years later.
She said she doesn’t remember how the suggestion that she continue working on the project came to be.
“I think it was just one of those things that came up in conversation as I was wrapping up my time on council,” she said. “I may have mentioned that I began working with the city as special counsel.
“I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this … so it would be my honor to help you see it through to the end and have a wonderful outcome,” Crawford said. “I appreciate this unique opportunity.”