The Coast News Group
Del Mar City Hall
Del Mar City Hall. File photo
CitiesDel Mar

Del Mar appoints new mayor; in-person meetings return next month

DEL MAR — The figurative mayoral baton has been passed to a new Del Mar council member following the completion of Dwight Worden’s one-year term in the role.

Councilmember Tracy Martinez, who served as deputy mayor for the past year, was appointed as the city’s new mayor at the council’s Dec. 12 meeting. She will hold the seat for the next year.

Unlike other cities where mayors are elected, Del Mar’s two highest vote-getting council members from the past election serve as mayor on a yearly rotating basis. Councilmember Dan Quirk was selected as the new deputy mayor.

Del Mar Mayor Tracy Martinez. Courtesy photo

The council also adopted a resolution honoring Worden for his mayoral service. Martinez thanked him for his mentorship to her and for always remaining clear-headed, even during discussions of contentious issues.

“I think that’s just your personality, but I’ve seen you under pretty extreme pressure moments, either by things going on within discussions on the council or with the public, and you’re always collected, polite and very even-keeled, and I appreciate that,” Martinez said.

Worden thanked the council and city staff for their work over the past year, and reminded the council to stay focused on pressing, still-unresolved issues including the city’s housing element and issues with the California Coastal Commission.

“I recognize that on some issues I have been in the minority on this council, and that’s okay. It’s the job of the minority, at least as I’ve seen it, to try to express my viewpoints constructively, to look for compromise and agreement where we can get it, and once the council majority makes a decision, for me to implement the decision even if it’s not the decision that I would make,” he said.

Worden and fellow councilmember Terry Gaasterland were also sworn into office after being elected to new City Council terms in the November election. They were the top two vote-getters in a three-person race over challenger Steve Quirk, the twin brother of Dan Quirk.

Aside from a new mayor, other changes are coming to council in the new year. After holding remote meetings over Zoom for the past 2½ years, the council will return to an in-person format at its next regular meeting on Jan. 9.

While the majority of neighboring cities returned to live proceedings over the past year, Del Mar stuck to a virtual format due to continued concerns about COVID-19. This month, the council approved an $8,500 budget adjustment for equipment to facilitate hybrid meetings.

City Manager Ashley Jones told the council this month that masks will be available for members of the public who want them and that space between chairs will be increased out of caution.

“We want the public to feel safe and comfortable coming into these meetings as well,” Jones said.