Commentary: Vote no on Prop. K

Teresa Arballo Barth

Proposition K – Shall the voters of the city of Encinitas directly elect a mayor and four City Council members? Sounds like a great idea. But is it?

Most cities have a directly elected mayor. I would argue that Encinitas is not like most cities.

Twenty-five years ago, residents of five very different communities came together to protect the unique character of each area from the over-development zeal of the then county Board of Supervisors. They came together not to be the same but to maintain their differences.

Just as they saw Encinitas as a coalition of communities, they wanted the council to be a collaboration of diverse opinions and perspectives.

Unfortunately, over the years partisan politics slipped into the process of the annual selection of mayor and deputy mayor. Individual council members have seen their role as one of power assuming greater authority for themselves and those who support them.

The impartial analysis included in the ballot statement describes the duties as established by “custom and practice” and performance of certain ceremonial functions. It makes the position of mayor sound as though it’s really not very important.

Currently, the “custom and practice” actually includes some very important duties. The mayor and city manager determine the council agenda, providing the mayor an opportunity to prevent some issues from coming to the council and to promote his/her pet projects. The mayor makes appointments to regional and state boards, chairs the city’s Housing Authority, the Encinitas Financing Authority and is the city’s representative to the League of California Cities. The mayor is the spokesperson for the city to the media.

The solution is not to create a new, more powerful and potentially expensive position that will open the door even wider for special interest money to influence local politics. The answer is simple. Codify a rotation system to take the petty politics out of the process. This will create certainty not only for the council members but for the public and the city staff as well.

I believe this will set a positive tone sending a clear message that the council is working together in the best interest of the city, not their own personal agendas.

Join me in voting no on Prop. K.

Teresa Arballo Barth is an Encinitas city councilwoman

Community commentaries are the opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the North Coast Current