As a Councilwoman, Maggie Houlihan gave Encinitas an elected leader who put the interests of the community before special interests. Whether one agreed or disagreed with her voting record, few questioned that she made decisions that she felt best served the community, using her integrity to put what she thought was the public good before the good of campaign contributors.
With her passing it is important we remember that Maggie Houlihan got more votes than any other City Council candidate in the elections of 2004 and 2008. As a council member Maggie Houlihan was open to the views of all residents who spoke before the council, and worked to bring residents and city hall together to find common ground. She worked to unite the community rather than divide it.
That she received more votes than any other candidate in two elections is a testament to her leadership to serve the best interests of all five communities in Encinitas. She understood that while each community was different, each was the same in their desire to protect their unique community character. She shared the belief that we only have one Encinitas and that we should protect it. She strongly supported community participation.
It is rare that an elected official, with a terminal illness, would serve their community until the time they passed. Surely, serving until such a time added stress to her physical health. It amazed me that Maggie Houlihan so loved her city that she put what she thought was the city’s best interests even before her own.
While she could have chosen the easier, softer way out and resigned for health reasons, she chose instead to serve and honor her commitment to represent those who voted for her. The city is currently going through a “General Plan Update” that has the potential to drastically allow increases in density and to diminish the quality of life for residents and local merchants. At this critical time in the city’s young history, Maggie Houlihan knew how important her leadership and votes were for the community.
It is important to remember that Maggie Houlihan stood for preserving our small town coastal community character. She opposed special interests that wanted to increase density for profits. She warned against the dangers of a Council Super Majority that could increase density without a vote of the people. She had a history of following the recommendations of the Encinitas Planning Commission to preserve community character and protect resident property values when others didn’t.
On the issues of dark skies, she supported Olivenhain and all Encinitas residents and their efforts to protect their quality of life. She thought that the Pacific View School needed an independent appraisal to know what the site was worth, and that the property should remain within the community — its future decided by residents.
With one year remaining in her four-year term, let’s hope the Encinitas City Council chooses to honor Maggie Houlihan’s legacy. The city council will either appoint a replacement or hold a special election. Many Encinitas Residents will have an opinion on which is best. Let’s hope the Council members don’t turn a deaf ear to the residents, and that they will work together to put the best interests of the community first. Maggie Houlihan did.
Filed Under: Life, Liberty and Leadership