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Del Mar council appoints new mayor

DEL MAR — Terry Sinnott handed over the reins to Dwight Worden during the annual mayoral rotation at the Dec. 4 City Council meeting.

“I have the opportunity to pass the gavel onto my successor, which is really, really cool,” Sinnott said. “I’m happy to pass these responsibilities of the mayor onto Dwight.”

Sinnott highlighted some of the accomplishments of the past year, including the ongoing construction of a long-planned City Hall replacement project that is currently on time and within budget.

New Del Mar Mayor Dwight Worden

“It’s been really enjoyable going up and down Camino del Mar and seeing the progress that site is making,” he said.

He and his colleagues, along with staff and the various advisory committees, developed what he described as a complex and robust two-year budget and continued to improve the city’s rapport with the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

“I think the effort of our Community Relations Committee has improved our work with the fairgrounds,” Sinnott said. “Even though we always have some issues to deal with, it’s a workable situation.”

The outgoing mayor praised the city for successfully playing host during the Breeders’ Cup, the premier horseracing event held at the Del Mar Racetrack for the first time in early November.

He also said plans are moving forward on “some really neat projects” such as streetscape and sidewalk improvements, the multifamily Watermark Del Mar development, replacing Bully’s North restaurant downtown and the proposed Del Mar Resort.

“But 2017 has been a difficult year,” Sinnott added. “New regulations and some employee issues have taken their toll on this council and the community as a whole.”

He was referring to the firing of Pat Vergne, Del Mar’s longtime chief lifeguard and community services director, and new rules that will restrict short-term rentals to seven-day minimums for a maximum of 28 days per year.

Sinnott was consistently the only dissenter in 4-1 votes approving the latter.

“Our public discourse has, in too many cases, moved a little bit away from the civil into some other realm, which was disappointing,” he added. “But I want to compliment (City Manager) Scott Huth and his staff for managing these situations in a fair and professional manor.

“I hope we will all work together to bring the community together in achieving common goals and hopefully move away from some of our differences,” he said. “Thank you all. I appreciate the opportunity to serve as your mayor, and I look forward to working with our new mayor.”

“It has been a challenging year in certain ways,” Worden said. “To be candid, Terry and I haven’t always agreed on policy issues, but he’s always been a gentleman.

“He’s always run fair meetings, and he’s always been very open to the input of everyone,” he added. “He knows how to be a team player and that’s really valued.”

Worden read a resolution of appreciation for Sinnott’s “exemplary service to the city,” which noted he presided over more than 100 hours of City Council meetings.

“That’s a record I hope I won’t break,” Worden said.

“His calm and deliberative demeanor and his adherence to the Del Mar code of civil discourse as mayor has set an even keel for the community and the council as it navigated some challenging and emotional issues,” Worden read. “His calm demeanor and sense of humor and his ability to be gracious when on the short end of the votes contributed to his success as mayor.”

“2017 has to go down (as) one of the most contentious years, probably, in Del Mar’s history,” Councilman Dave Druker said. “It’s always difficult when you have contentious issues to run a good meeting and you always did that.

“And you did it really well and I really appreciate your patience and diligence in terms of making sure the meetings ran smoothly,” he added.

Sinnott was elected to City Council in 2010 and first served as mayor in 2013. He and Worden were appointed to council in 2014 because they were the only two candidates for the two open seats and canceling the local election saved the city money.

As the top vote-getter in the 2016 election, Druker was appointed deputy mayor.

Del Mar and neighboring Solana Beach are the only two cities in San Diego County that appoint rather than elect a mayor.