Post-election wrap: Tough campaign, major mayoral change

Ernesto Lopez

After an election season plagued by hit pieces, Encinitas saw the election of two new City Council members, Lisa Shaffer and Tony Kranz, and the return of an appointed incumbent, Mark Muir.

In fourth place, out of three possible seats to fill, was longtime councilman and current mayor Jerome Stocks. Shaffer earned 23.16 percent of the votes, Kranz got 18.46 percent and Muir 14.4 percent.

Current and newly elected council members weighed in about the Nov. 6 election results, some of whom said it was no surprise that voters decided to “dump” Stocks after serving three consecutive terms and having laundry list of controversy.

“Mr. Stocks was defeated because of his arrogant and bullying behavior over the last few years. It was not surprising the least that voters did not support him,” incumbent Councilwoman Teresa Barth said.

Barth accused Stocks of being verbally abusive to residents at council meetings and not being aligned with open government.

Lisa Shaffer
Lisa Shaffer

“I look forward to work with five council members on equal footing,” she said.

Shaffer and Kranz, who supported each other during the campaign, both said in separate phone interviews that they see the good Stocks did for the city but are content with the change.

“Jerome did a lot of good – too many things to list – but this particular change in the council is the right approach,” Kranz said. “Change is useful and I am happy to be given this opportunity to serve.”

“I appreciate what Jerome has done for Encinitas,” Shaffer said. “Anytime anyone makes the commitment, it needs to be honored, even though I disagreed with him in many levels.”

Tony Kranz
Tony Kranz

Shaffer said she is pleased about her successful campaign and relieved that it’s over.

Stocks, who couldn’t be reached for comment after the election, tweeted a message of gratitude to his supporters on Nov. 7.

“We (had) a great 12 year run as Mayor and Councilman,” he stated. “I’m very proud of our city and what we’ve accomplished locally and regionally. Thank you.”

At an Oct. 3 City Council candidates forum, Stocks seemed confident. He told the North Coast Current he was ready to continue serving the community: “I would love to serve an additional four year term. I have learned a lot and I have done a lot.”

Mark Muir
Mark Muir

“I still have ideas and things to give back,” he added.

Somewhat let down that Stocks lost his re-election bid, retiring Councilman James Bond said he saw it coming. He said the movement to remove Stocks from office had begun more than a year ago.

“Jerome was clearly target of a group of folks. The election results were no surprise,” Bonds said.

Mike Andreen, a local businessman and political activist who runs the New Encinitas Network, said he also witnessed the organized campaign to show Stocks the door.

Jerome Stocks
Jerome Stocks

Andreen said Stocks was provoked, and they were successful.

“These people took it upon themselves to highjack almost every public meeting that Mayor Stocks was in charge of. I believe it was to publicly enrage him,” Andreen said. “They are equal as far as who is the biggest bully.”

Elected mayor coming soon

Encinitas voters also made another big decision this election cycle. They approved Proposition K, which calls for an elected mayor.

Bond said it was time that the city had an elected mayor now that it’s relatively established with more than 64,000 residents.

The councilman said that a mayor chosen by the voters will add more stability to local government and eliminate the “rather contentious” rotation process that had been in place since the city was founded in 1986.

“I have been advocating having an elected mayor for more than 15 years,” Bond said. “With our current process, somebody was always left out.”

Shaffer, who did not support Prop. K, said the annual rotation was a good thing, but it was not working well. Also against an elected mayor, Barth said she understands why voters chose to pass the proposition.

“People found the controversial rotation process to be offensive and petty,” she said.

Prop. K passed with 55.97 percent to 44.03 percent of the votes. Proposition L, which proposed a two-year mayoral term, won with 56.88 percent to 43.12 percent. Proposition M, which proposed a four-year mayoral term, lost 71.05 percent to 28.95 percent.

The first mayor under the new law will be elected in November 2014.

The election results remain unofficial, according to the registrar of voters, with about 325,000 mail-in and provisional ballots still to be counted in the region as of 4:30 a.m. Nov. 9.

Muir, who also could not be reached for comment, is the city’s former fire chief and was appointed interim councilman in October 2011 after the death of Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan.

Barth said it was important that Muir was elected by the voters and not just appointed, an action that faced controversy.

Ernesto Lopez is a San Diego freelance writer