The Coast News Group
Community CommentaryLettersOpinionOpinions

Letters: Winning isn’t everything

By Lisa Shaffer

I want to express appreciation to the Encinitas candidates who were not successful in the recent election. Just by running, they changed the conversation, focused attention, and contributed to positive change.

On November 17, “the Mayor and Council Members made a commitment to pursue the building of a 100% (or as close as possible) Affordable Housing Community in Encinitas,” as reported by Keys4Homes, an advocacy organization for affordable housing. While this might have happened anyway, I think some credit goes to recent candidates who made affordable housing a central theme of their campaigns.

While there was disagreement about the validity and realism of the proposed solutions from the losing candidates, there was an unmistakable signal that the issue matters to residents and no doubt that there is a strong desire to increase the available inventory of housing units for lower-income residents.

The council in the past has appointed people with diverse views to the various commissions, especially the city’s Planning Commission, and I hope that will continue.  The more people who engage and contribute, the more the resulting policies and programs will reflect the broadest consensus in our community and bring out the best in all of us.

Running for public office is a huge undertaking. There is an enormous emotional cost in addition to the financial and physical challenges of a campaign. With heightened tension and division at all levels of society, running for office required even more courage and thick skin this year.

I appreciate anyone who is willing to put themselves into the public arena for a cause they believe in. It is important for residents to get involved, to learn about the issues, and to figure out where they stand. Make no mistake – this year’s election season had its downsides too.

We are all worse off when there are false or misleading messages on signs or mailers, negative and downright nasty social media postings, and the increased involvement of non-local PACs. Candidates need to set the tone for their campaigns and encourage volunteers to uphold standards of civility and integrity.

Perhaps the unfortunate tradition of negative campaigning in Encinitas can come to an end as we see the harm it leaves in its wake.

Lisa Shaffer is a former Encinitas City Councilmember and author of a forthcoming book, “Potholes, Parks, and Politics: A guide to getting things done locally (without having to run for office yourself)”