ENCINITAS — Councilman Mark Muir recently filed papers for a Council seat.
Muir, the Council’s newest member, previously said he was unsure if he would run in November’s election. But now he’s officially one of nine candidates in the Council race.
Muir has sought to brand himself as “a strong fiscal conservative.”
Given his familiarity with the public sector, Muir said he’s well equipped to deliver one of the major parts of his platform: government efficiency.
Prior to his Council term, Muir served as a firefighter for 35 years, including 25 years in Encinitas.
A San Diego native, Muir began as a volunteer firefighter when he was in college.
He liked it so much that he decided to pursue it full time.
He eventually reached the rank of fire chief of Encinitas. While fire chief, Muir eliminated overlapping positions and departments — one example of a history of getting rid of government waste, he said.
His resume includes positions on a number of public agencies.
Two current examples include sitting on the boards of the San Elijo Joint Powers Water Authority and Encinas Wastewater Authority.
Muir’s experience with various local agencies allowed him to hit the ground running when he began his Council term, he said.
During his nine months on Council, Muir has been a part of critical Council decisions, including approving funding for the Encinitas Community Park (a unanimous Council decision).
Though he’s voted on a variety of hot-button issues, the most contentious part of his Council term occurred even before he was sworn in.
Muir was appointed late last year to complete the term of former Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan, who passed away after battling cancer.
Many were upset that council members didn’t select one of the candidates Houlihan endorsed to succeed her, accusing the Council majority of picking someone who would vote in line with them.
Fears of him always voting with the Council majority haven’t come to pass, Muir said.
“The one thing I said I wouldn’t do is be a potted plant,” Muir said, adding, “I’m very independent.”
Muir said he isn’t endorsing any other Council candidates for November’s election. Further, he argued slates are problematic because they take away from what’s supposed to be “five independent people.”
In addition to government efficiency, Muir said other issues are a part of his platform — the housing element of the General Plan Update being one of them.
Many residents have raised concerns over where 1,300 state-mandated housing units should be put in Encinitas.
Muir didn’t propose an alternative plan, but said the city should reexamine the criteria it uses to decide where the housing units should go.
“For me, it’s more of a larger vision of let’s look at different methodologies,” he said.
Most recently, the city has sought to gain public feedback on the housing units with dot-mapping workshops.
During the workshops, residents were each given 10 blue stickers and asked to mark on a map of Leucadia, Old Encinitas, New Encinitas, Cardiff and Olivenhain where the state-mandated housing units should be located.
“I don’t particularly think the dot exercise was that effective because most people don’t like growth in their neighborhood,” Muir said.
When asked about pension reform, Muir noted he’s in favor of it. He said he believes the City Council made big strides by recently adopting a two-tiered system for its employees.
“I almost kind of put myself in a position like (San Diego Mayor) Jerry Sanders, (when) you’re part of that pension thing,” Muir said. “And now you’re fighting the pension thing because you’re in a different role.”
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