ENCINITAS — Leucadia 101 Executive Director Kellie Shay Hinze has a new title: Encinitas City Councilwoman.
On Jan. 9, City Council unanimously appointed Hinze, 33, to serve out the final two years of former Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath’s term. Boerner Horvath vacated her seat after she was elected to the State Assembly.
Hinze is the second youngest member of the council in its history. Former Councilwoman Kristin Gaspar was 30 when she was elected in 2010.
“It is a little overwhelming, of course, but I am up for it, and I am honored to be selected and it has been an amazing decision process,” Hinze said after she was appointed.
Hinze, who was named Leucadia 101’s executive director in July 2017, has also served on the city’s coastal mobility and livability working group and the economic development strategy working group. She has been an outspoken supporter of the North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape project, helping to lead a campaign to counter the opposition to the project.
The council selected Hinze from a pool of eight applicants that included a number of high-profile local residents, including Planning Commissioner Kevin Doyle, Leucadia 101 co-founder William Morrison and Tony Brandenburg, former planning commissioner, judge and council candidate.
A number of the 29 speakers who spoke at the council meeting endorsed Brandenburg, who they said would bring balance to the council and noted his opposition to the city’s most recent housing element proposal, which voters rejected in November.
One by one, the council members thanked the applicants for their interest and depth of experience, but each said they chose Hinze for several key reasons: she represented an age demographic that isn’t currently represented on the council, her knowledge of local issues and her enthusiasm and passion for the community, among others.
“I’m excited to have her,” Mayor Catherine Blakespear said.
Hinze’s appointment request was buoyed by a number of residents who came out and spoke in favor of her selection, including her mother. They noted her passion for helping small business, her leadership qualities, her temperament, global experience and ability to engage the younger generation of Encinitas residents.
“She turns residents into citizens,” Leucadia resident Judy Berlfein said.
Hinze said the support from the community gave her confidence in her decision to seek the appointment.
“It makes me feel confident that I am doing the right thing and the positions I have taken as a community advocate have been the right one,” she said. “I don’t hope to do this without the community behind me, and I hope they continue showing up and giving direction to the council about the future of Encinitas.”
As a result of her appointment, Hinze will have to resign her post at Leucadia 101, which advocates for businesses and promotes the town’s historic core, because the organization receives funds from the city, which would create a conflict of interest.
“That has been the hardest decision in all of this, because that position was so much more than a job, it was engaging the community, promoting the culture and small businesses in Leucadia,” she said. “I hope I can still embody those aspects on the council. I am stepping away from a really strong organization, but I know they will continue on the right path because the whole team of dedicated board members and volunteers who share a similar vision.”
Originally 10 people submitted applications for the vacancy, but three withdrew their applications before the meeting and a fourth, former mayoral candidate John Paul Elliott, was disqualified because he was not registered to vote at his current address.
Hinze, Doyle, Morrison, Brandenburg and Susie Nancarrow Glenn, a local real estate broker, addressed the council before it made its decision.
The council’s appointment of Hinze is as an at-large council member, as Boerner Horvath’s was elected it the city’s last at-large election in 2016. In 2020, Hinze will have to run for election to become District 2’s first official representative.