By Julie Thunder
Filling the Encinitas City Council District 3 vacancy created by the resignation of Jody Hubbard raises numerous questions about our Mayor and Councilmembers who seem to have favored enlisting a new team player who aligns with their own politics, ahead of other important considerations.
First and foremost, why didn’t the council defer to the voters and call for a special election?
The stated reason was cost, but the public was never given a viable estimate of what that cost would be for a district-only election. City staff estimated a city-wide special election would cost $408,000.
As District 3 is one-fourth the size of the City, a reasonable assumption with added buffer would be $150,000. That’s far less than the $400,000 the City budgeted for art gallery lighting this year.
With this new appointment, our politically-aligned Council now has a 3-vote majority made up of appointees, all voted into office by this mayor.
Will they feel obligated to follow the mayor’s lead on future decisions? Councilmembers Joe Mosca (appointed in 2017, then elected in 2018) and Kellie Hinze (appointed in 2019, then elected in 2020) rarely vote against the mayor, and with the advantage of incumbency, they each won reelection.
Last week’s appointment also gives a leg up to their new appointee, Joy Lyndes, if she decides to defend her seat in 2022.
One issue councilmembers will soon vote on is the future of the Pacific View site, the school property purchased by the city in 2014 for a controversial $10 million. The Mayor has indicated she is ready to move forward with plans for the property.
But, Lyndes’ husband sits on the board of the site’s controlling agency creating a possible conflict of interest, which could cause her recusal. This would disenfranchise residents of District 3 leaving them without a voice in future Pacific View decisions.
The council initially said they wanted someone “like Jody” to replace her, but then declined Ms. Hubbard’s personal choice of Planning Commissioner Brett Farrow. Then they said they want a candidate who “would be a good team member” and “help us do the things we want to do.”
Never did they mention ‘representation’ or the ‘people’ of District 3.
Also missing was any discussion on how the applicants would handle issues unique to District 3: Birmingham Drive Streetscape, homelessness in Glen Park, increasing traffic and speeds on S. El Camino Real, and safety issues with the S. Coast Highway bike curbs, to name a few.
Determined to serve the city I love, I also applied for the vacant seat. As a recent candidate who opposed the mayor in the November election my expectations weren’t high. But, since I did earn over 45% of the vote, I was hopeful the council would extend an olive branch to my supporters– more than 4,500 people in District 3 who don’t feel represented by current leadership. Despite these numbers, and the hundreds of letters of support the City received for me last week, my application did not gain traction. C’est la vie.
To Councilmember Joy Lyndes, you are not to blame for a questionable process. I wish you luck and trust you will be an independent and responsive representative to residents of District 3.
And to Jody Hubbard, thank you for your service to our community and I wish you good health.
Julie Thunder has lived in Cardiff for 36 years.