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Gaspar, Blakespear win mayor, council race; Measure F Fails

Encinitas voters elected Kristin Gaspar as the city’s first mayor, as she easily distanced herself from the rest of the five-candidate field on election night, elected Catherine Blakespear to fill the council seat vacated by Teresa Barth, and said no to Medical Marijuana.

Gaspar, per unofficial totals on the County registrar of voters website, received 48.14 percent of votes cast, easily besting Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz, who finished in second place with 32.26 percent. Former Encinitas Mayor Sheila Cameron, who entered the race just before the filing deadline, finished in third place with 13.08 percent of the vote.

Munawer “Mike” Bawany, a local engineer, and indpendent journalist Alex Fidel finished in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Gaspar said she believed her hard work on the campaign trail paid dividends.

“I am very pleased with the results so far,” Gaspar said early Tuesday night before final tallies solidified her victory. “This was the culmination of 18 months of hard work, walking the neigbhorhoods of Encinitas, sometimes with my 9-year-old son in tow. I really feel that the face-to-face contact with voters really was the difference.”

Gaspar has opposed the city’s $10 million purchase of Pacific View, which she said should have been used to pay for the city’s infrastructure repair backlog. Kranz has been an ardent supporter of the purchase, countering that the city has enough money to pay for both priorities.

City voters are electing mayor for the first time after voters in 2012 passed two propositions that would make the mayor an elected post rather than an appointed one, and set the mayoral term at two years.

Kranz, who still has two years left on his council term, congratulated Gaspar on her victory in a statement on his Facebook page.

“Congratulations to Mayor Kristin Gaspar on her big win last night,” he wrote. “Since I still have two years to serve in my term as a city council member, I look forward to working with her. Thank you for your support. Encinitas is in great shape and I will keep working to make it an even better place.”

In the race to replace Barth, who did not seek re-election, Blakespear – who Barth endorsed – collected 38.32 percent of the vote, besting Alan Lerchbacker, who received just under 33 percent of the vote.

Blakespear has championed urban agriculture throughout her campaign, arguing that it plays a much larger role in land-use planning than people realize. Critics and her opponents attempted to marginalize Blakespear’s platform as narrow, including a last-minute robocall critical of her support of the city’s proposed urban agriculture measures.

Blakespear said she felt vindicated by the results.

“I feel heartened to know that running a positive campaign can win an Encinitas election,” Blakespear said, “I was really committed to not sinking to that level…I think that speaks well for the populace.

“I think it was the months of community outreach, the 40 meet and greets I had with neighbors and residents, and articulating a vision for the city that was a vision that people believed in and could get behind…that enabled me to win,” Blakespear said.

Lerchbacker made a late push in the race when he poured $25,000 of his own money into the campaign and when the Republican Party threw its support behind him in the 11th hour of the race. From there, he formed a ticket with Gaspar and had the backing of former council members Jerome Stocks and Jim Bond, among others.

“I had a blast running for office, I had a chance to work with some great people and it was an experience I won’t forget,” said Lerchbacker, who expressed interest in serving on a city commission following the election. “The two ladies that ran against me were awesome and ran excellent campaigns, and I have no doubt that Catherine Blakespear is going to do an excellent job for the residents of Encinitas.”

Julie Graboi, a staunch advocate for Proposition A and opponent of the density-bonus projects, who received the endorsement of longtime community fixture Bob Bonde and former mayors Pam Slater-Price and Dennis Holz, finished in third place with 19.82 percent of the vote.

Brian Ziegler, a deputy county counsel who owned the San Diego GOP endorsement until the party switched its endorsement to Lerchbacker, finished in fourth place with 8.87 percent of the vote.

What do the election results mean for Encinitas residents? Essentially that the balance of power on the City Council stays as it was before the election, as Blakespear, a protege of Lisa Shaffer and Teresa Barth, will assume the seat vacated by Barth.

In the other major item on the ballot, 56 percent of voters voted against Measure F, which would have repealed the city’s ban on medicinal cannabis storefronts and replaced it with a series of regulations and granted the city authority to tax the revenues.

The measures would have prevented storefronts from being within a 600-foot radius of schools or playgrounds, would have required shops to have security cameras alarms, safety lighting, secured marijuana storage and licensed security personnel on site during business hours, and would have restricted business hours to 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and barred alcohol from being solid or consumed on site.

Voters rejected a similar measure in La Mesa that was sponsored by the same advocacy group behind the Encinitas measure, Citizens for Patients Rights. A number of drug-free and anti-drug activist groups, as well as the Encinitas City Council, opposed the measure.