Mayor initiative stirring debate

Ernesto Lopez

The idea of having an elected mayor in Encinitas is not settling in well for those residents who would rather keep the current annual selection process but have it modified.

“We do not want an elected mayor,” Candice Kamada said after an Oct. 3 City Council candidates forum in Olivenhain. “We like the one-year term because if we don’t like somebody’s approach we don’t have to worry; they’re gone the next year.”

Currently, the City Council votes every year to decide who out of the five members will be mayor and deputy mayor.

But in the November general election, Encinitas voters will decide whether the city will have an elected mayor and for how long, two- or four-year terms. The plan to put the idea on the ballot was decided by the City Council in a July 11 meeting.

Mayor Jerome Stocks told the North Coast Current at the forum that he supports having an elected mayor in Encinitas because he or she will be held accountable and have the opportunity to tackle certain issues with more time.

“It is very difficult to accomplish much at the government level in 12 months,” Stocks said. “By setting a two- or four-year term, the mayor will be able to initiate something and see it through.”

Judy Berlfein from Old Encinitas, who was also at the Olivenhain candidates forum, said she is concerned that an elected mayor could not represent the interests of the community at large, however.

“I rather stick with the rotation process, but I would like it formalized so it’s not sidetracked,” she said.

Kamada seconded that by adding, “The only thing I’d like to see happen is have the rotation codified or in writing so it’s more binding.”

Berlfein and Kamada said that changes to the present system are much needed since council members whom they have supported have been passed over to serve as mayor, such as Teresa Barth and the late Maggie Houlihan.

“It’s absolutely not plain fair to overlook somebody; we don’t want to see that anymore,” Kamada said.

Councilwoman Barth, who has been skipped three years in a row, recently said via telephone interview that not being able to serve is a disservice to the people who have voted her onto the City Council.

“My supporters have a right to have me serve as their mayor, but I am being bullied because I don’t go with the council majority,” Barth said, although she backs having the voters decide whether to have an elected mayor.

Stocks said nobody has been passed over, and shot down claims that Barth is being bullied.

“This recent human cry is nonsense,” Stocks said. “It’s a selection and (Barth) has failed to garner three votes.”

Ernesto Lopez is a San Diego freelance writer