CARLSBAD —A new class was sworn in on Dec. 11 to take their seats on the dais of the Carlsbad City Council.
Barbara Hamilton and Priya Bhat-Patel took their oaths during the City Council meeting marking a new sign, and possibly, new direction for the governing body. In addition, Mayor Matt Hall, City Clerk Barbara Engleson and Treasurer Craig Lindholm were also sworn in.
Hamilton and Bhat-Patel won the first-ever district elections for the council, representing District 1 and 3, respectively. Both trailed their Nov. 6 races after the first ballots were reported, but steadily made up ground as outstanding ballots were released for the next several weeks.
Both were engaged in tight races, with Hamilton, who earned 38 percent of the vote, getting past Tracy Carmichael (36 percent), Linda Breen (15 percent) and Dave McGee (11 percent). Bhat-Patel defeated Corrine Busta, 51-49.
Hall, meanwhile, scored a convincing 56-44 victory over Councilwoman Cori Schumacher. It will be Hall’s third term as mayor.
In her first address as a councilwoman, Hamilton said the turnout in District 1, which was 76 percent, along with 65 percent voting against the status quo, are signs that times are changing.
She said the election was also a clear indication the districting system works and allows those representatives to stay in touch with their district constituents, along with following citywide issues.
“This is not about me. I did not win this seat, we won this seat,” Hamilton said. “I will be the one with my ear to ground in District 1. I will openly and appreciatively have open conversation with you.”
She said during her campaign, residents approached her about a host of issues in District 1 and throughout the city. Those included sober-living facilities, homelessness, traffic, short-term vacation rentals, the airport, development at Ponto and trenching the railroad tracks, to name a few.
Bhat-Patel, meanwhile, took a more reserved approach, saying she was excited to be elected, thanking her friends, family and volunteers.
“I’m truly thrilled that this process got me to be able meet people who are extremely passionate about what they do,” she said. “Everyone here is part of that change and part of that vision.”
Hamilton and Bhat-Patel replace longtime Councilman Mark Packard and Michael Schumacher, respectively. Both men opted against running for re-election, each saying they wanted more time with their families.