In split vote, Encinitas City Council opts to appoint successor for District 1 seat

Newly elected Councilman Bruce Ehlers is lone dissenter


Encinitas City Hall. (NCC file photo)

North Coast Current

The Encinitas City Council voted Wednesday, Dec. 14, to appoint a new member to fill the District 1 seat vacated by Tony Kranz after his recent election to mayor.

It was a vote that showed a new dynamic on the dais, with recently elected Councilman Bruce Ehlers voting against the proposal. Kranz, Joy Lyndes and Kellie Shay Hinze voted in favor.

“I’m actually in support of the people voting,” Ehlers said in comments before the decision.

Ehlers, like some of the residents who spoke, noted that the cost of a nearly $400,000 special election is not as exorbitant given that the cost per voter would be about $30, based on an approximate District 1 population of nearly 12,000.

“I think that’s a relatively small price to pay,” he said. “But I do understand that I will likely be on the minority here.”

The decision came after a review of two options — a May 2023 special election in the district, which largely covers Leucadia, or an appointment process. The City Council had until Feb. 11 to make a decision on which process to take, City Clerk Kathy Hollywood said during the meeting.

Hinze, like some of the other residents who spoke in favor of an appointment, cited cost and timeliness in support of the idea.

“The main reason why this is important to me is that not only will we not have somebody in this seat until May, but we’d also miss a full budget cycle for that representative to take part in, which will begin in January,” Hinze said.

She said that several infrastructure decisions in the months ahead involve Leucadia, from continued streetscape work to flood control.

Residents who spoke at the City Council meeting ahead of the decision varied in their reactions about the idea to appoint a new council member.

Cyrus Kamada told the council that appointing a new member “would be a good faith bet on the wisdom of your constituents.”

“I realize that elections have consequences, but sometimes the most effective use of power lies in its restraint,” Kamada said. “While I did not support her, Julie Thunder received 45% of the vote in the 2020 mayoral election. If the council appoints a supporter in District 1, you would have an 80% majority. A government that deliberately diverges from the makeup its constituents loses legitimacy almost by definition. That is the reason diversity has value. And if diversity truly is a worthy goal, then we should embrace it even when the outcome potentially complicates our agenda.”

District 1 resident June Honsberger, speaking in favor of the appointment process, said Lecuadia needs representation on the City Council now.

“District 1 has a lot of issues, and I feel that we need representation as soon as possible,” she said, criticizing the delay that a May 2023 ballot would create. “That is not acceptable. Leucadia deserves representation, and we deserve it within 60 days.”

Former council candidates Susan Turney and Alex Riley spoke against an appointed seat, as did former Councilwoman Sheila Cameron.

Turney noted that three of the most recent council members started as appointments, leading to what she called “lockstep” votes with former Mayor Catherine Blakespear.

“At best, these unanimous votes point to an unhealthy phenomenon known as groupthink,” she said.

District 1 residents interested in applying for the seat have until 5 p.m. Jan. 10, according to a city announcement. More information about the opening is available online at