EDITOR’S NOTE: This article incorrectly stated that only half of Solana Beach residents would vote for mayor in the 2020 general elections. All Solana Beach residents will vote for mayor in November.
SOLANA BEACH — Former Solana Beach Councilwoman Lesa Heebner announced today that she will seek to become the city’s first elected mayor in the November general election.
This year’s election marks the first time in the city’s 34-year history that Solana Beach voters will choose their mayor at the ballot box. Prior to this election cycle, the city’s mayoral seat was rotated once-a-year among the five council members.
“I feel it’s time for me to get out there and make my intention known,” Heebner told The Coast News regarding her early announcement. “I do feel like I’m extremely qualified for the position having been mayor a number of times. I have a lot of relationships in the region and look forward to working cooperatively as a mayor with others.”
Previously, Heebner served 12 years on the city council, including three times as mayor, before retiring in 2016. While on the council, Heebner was the city’s primary board member on SANDAG for 10 years, and she also served as chair of SANDAG’s Regional Planning Committee.
In April 2018, she stepped out of retirement after being unanimously appointed to fill a temporary vacancy following the unexpected resignation of former Councilman Mike Nichols.
After serving an eight-month stint on the council, Heebner’s and Peter Zahn’s seats were filled by newly-elected Councilwomen Kelly Harless and Kristi Becker.
“My priority is and always has been to preserve the character of our community as our city progresses and adapts to new realities,” Heebner said in a statement. “With new pressures from regional and state governments to build more densely and the loss to the city budget of tax revenues due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, my experience with city finances, land use, and professional relationships with state and regional officials will help us navigate a path forward to protect our interests and ensure the financial viability of our city.”
Heebner said her top priorities include the future of the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Solana Beach Executive Golf Course.
Additionally, Heebner wants to maintain community dialogue regarding the Lomas Santa Fe Drive street improvements and neighborhood traffic issues, in addition to ensuring the success of the Clean Energy Alliance with the cities of Carlsbad and Del Mar.
Heebner said she fully supports each of the current Solana Beach councilmembers, and she looks forward to continuing the council’s longstanding tradition of teamwork and cooperation.
“[The council has] been very egalitarian and I’m very supportive of that,” Heebner said. “For instance in other cities, only the mayor can put an item on the agenda. I prefer the way we do it now when any councilmember can put something on the agenda, should they wish.”
In 2018, Solana Beach was drawn into four voting districts for the upcoming 2020 election, with each councilmember representing a quarter of the city, or roughly 3,200 residents.
Two of the districts run east to west from Interstate 5 to the coast. one is completely on the east side and the other on the west side.
“I don’t want a ‘my team versus your team’ sentiment coming out of the different districts,” Heebner said. “We drew the districts so they would share as many of the same assets as possible to prevent that.”