Candidate forum kicks off city’s campaign season

ENCINITAS — A relatively modest-sized crowd turned out to hear the views of the City Council candidates at the first forum of the election on Sept. 18. 

Hosted by the Cardiff Town Council, six out of the nine candidates answered a litany of questions ranging from environmental impacts of contaminated soil removal to restrictions on alcohol serving establishments in downtown Encinitas.

The candidates are vying for three spots on the council in the November election. Lisa Shaffer, Jerome Stocks, Tony Kranz, Mark Muir, Barbara Yost and Thomas Brophy made up the field of candidates in attendance.

Candidates Bryan Ziegler, Peter Schuh and Kevin Forrester were absent.

The moderator Barbara Cobb urged the audience to limit its questions to those that could be answered with a “yes” or “no” response. However, many in the crowd had something else in mind and wanted detailed responses.

“I don’t see what the point is to such a simplified format,” said Dan Saiffe, a new resident in Cardiff. “I hope we get some meat out of the answers.”

A group of downtown Encinitas neighbors focused their line of questioning on the restrictions on alcohol serving businesses in their area.

Claiming an increase in property crime, the residents asked the candidates if they would be in favor of a moratorium on new bars and if they would support making downtown bars close at midnight.

Stocks, who has served on the council since 2000, said he did not support restricting downtown businesses but would rather look to a collaborative effort with law enforcement to curb crime.

Cardiff resident Tricia Smith asked the candidates if they would defy the state mandates in allowing density bonus housing.

While several of the other candidates agreed that they were not in favor of the current density bonus laws, few would repudiate it. “No I’m not willing to defy state law,” Muir said. “I would find someway around it,” Yost, a first-time candidate, said.

Another development issue question followed closely behind Smith’s. “Would you support putting the general plan update with zoning increases, putting it to a vote of the people?” Bruce Ehlers asked. All of the candidates agreed that they would.

“Would you support at-grade crossings in lieu of underground crossings?” Steve Goyette asked the candidates. “It would be much more cost effective,” Kranz said. He also said that wayside horns were an affordable option. “We’ll be able to afford it because we’ll save a lot of money on not constructing underground crossings,” he said to applause.

Stocks said he did not support at-grade crossings because of the train noise. “The goal is to silence the horns and improve the availability of safe crossing areas,” he said.

“I would love to see our tracks lowered like in Solana Beach,” Shaffer said.

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