By Darius Degher
If you look up the term “dedicated public servant” in the dictionary, you will see pictures of Catherine Blakespear, Tony Kranz and Kellie Hinze. Or at least you should.
The Encinitas mayor and city council members are as rock-solid as they come, and they deserve to be re-elected. They’re the heart of the best council the city has ever had (and I’ve seen a number of them).
They’re responsible for our climate plan, community choice energy, new bike and pedestrian infrastructure, bans on plastic straws and gas leaf-blowers, and the city’s first-ever, state-approved housing plan, among other successes.
In the social media miasma, however, you’ll find lots of disinformation, likely inspired by our shambolic national politics. Centered on opposition to the Cardiff Rail Trail (now beloved, btw), our housing element quagmire, and a safe place for a few homeless people, political challengers emerged, and an orchestrated smear campaign was mounted against Blakespear. Soon, a strange, anti-incumbent mood seemed afoot.
But the challengers haven’t voiced any positive ideas. They’re running negative campaigns: vocal about what they dislike without suggesting any constructive alternatives. So, their campaigns resemble Trump’s in 2016: rhetoric about how terrible everything is at a time when things are actually quite good. It’s a style based on imagined fears of what could go wrong, not on what’s actually happening.
The challengers also have no experience in city government. As someone who’s served on a city commission, I can tell you there’s a lot to learn there about what’s actually involved in governance. Maybe they should do that and then try running again in a few years.
The challengers also seem bent on obfuscating their political orientations, hiding behind vague slogans and the fable of “non-partisan” politics. Online, if you ask Julie Thunder a policy question, she’ll either ignore it or her social media mob will attack your intentions.
We might not have known of her Republican orientation at all if it weren’t for her association with Kristin Gaspar and Crista Curtis (organizer of the dangerous “open the city” protest). Interestingly, Thunder changed her status from Republican to No Party Preference just before declaring her candidacy.
True, our housing situation, with no legal housing element at all for many years, has been a mess. But it’s an exceedingly complex issue, with the State of California pressuring Encinitas from one side and developers suing the city from the other. It’s easy to oversimplify the situation, and I feel the council has done a good job of threading a difficult needle.
The truth is it’s privileged communities like ours, fighting the state’s demands for more housing, which are one cause of California’s intractable homelessness problem. Nobody wants more housing, but NIMBY-ism has reached its limits. (In fact, I propose POPP, Protect Our Privileged Property, as a more accurate acronym.)
The mayor and council understood that inaction was no longer viable and was costing the city millions in litigation. Now, for the first time in decades, Encinitas is in compliance with state law. The challengers suggest they could do better, but they haven’t proposed any real way forward, relying instead on mendacious yard signs about the city suing them.
Blakespear, Kranz, and Hinze are lifelong Encinitans. They’re honest, smart, and progressive. Encinitas has never had a more trustworthy, cohesive, and wise city council. It needs to remain intact.
And while you’re voting, please also vote for Tasha Boerner-Horvath and Terra Lawson-Remer!