For Paul Gaspar, a background of sitting on the
dais at City Hall isn’t the only way to prove the leadership skills needed to do well as Mayor of Encinitas.
A doctor of physical therapy and the president of Gaspar Physical Therapy, which has grown to have seven locations and 100 employees after opening in Encinitas as a one-room office in 1994, Gaspar is running against current City Council member Catherine Blakespear. The winner of the Nov. 8 election serves a two-year term, presiding at City Council meetings, being recognized as the head of the city government for ceremonial purposes and acting as the official representative for the city in agreements with other governmental entities but having an equal vote to any City Council member.
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Paul’s wife Kristin Gaspar has served for the past two years as Encinitas’ first elected Mayor, this after a four-year council term.
“I’d like to thank the citizens of Encinitas for their trust in electing my wife, Kristin, a nonpartisan, level-headed leader to be our first directly-elected Mayor,” Gaspar said in an email to the Encinitas Advocate. “I have supported her fair and honest approach to leadership, living and breathing every moment alongside her during her six-year tenure on the City Council. I plan to continue the steady, pragmatic and fiscally-responsible course that she has set for our city — the type of leadership that Encinitas citizens approve of, as evidenced by her winning over 90 percent of the Encinitas precincts in her recent County Supervisor primary.
“I’d like to put my vast experience and skills to work for our city so that life in Encinitas can be even better in the future than it is today.”
Paul Gaspar comes from a fourth-generation Southern California family, and moved to the Moonlight Beach area in the 1990s after earning his doctorate degree in physical therapy from USC. He and his wife bought their first house in 2000, moving to the Encinitas Ranch neighborhood. They have three children, 11-year-old Carson, Payton, 8, and Addie, 6.
“Encinitas is such a special place,” Gaspar said. “Now that I live here, I would not consider moving away.”
Gaspar got his undergraduate degree at Cal State Fullerton, then a Master’s at USC where, in addition to getting his Doctorate in physical therapy, he served as an adjunct professor. He also served as an adjunct professor in San Diego State’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program.
His public service includes stints as a member of the Encinitas Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce, the San Diego Regional Chamber Healthcare Committee, and as president of the San Dieguito Sports Medicine Foundation. He often cites his work fighting on behalf of physical therapy organizations in Sacramento as part of his pertinent experience, as he has been the director of the California Physical Therapy Association; president of the Independent Physical Therapists of California; on the Government Affairs Committee of the California Physical Therapy Association; a trustee for the American Physical Therapy Association’s Political Action Committee; director of the National Physical Therapy Business Alliance; and vice president of the California Private Practice Group of the California Physical Therapy Association.
“Much of the work (especially to improve Encinitas’ land-use problems) needs to be done in Sacramento and I am the only candidate running with any track record of work and success in Sacramento, having worked to pass several good bills during the last decade, while blocking many harmful bills,” Gaspar said. “I am amiable, fair, bright, extremely qualified and I take the time to diagnose the issues and make the right decision the first time. I would not have achieved the level of success I have enjoyed on numerous levels without an excellent attitude and the ability to bring people together to achieve great things.”
One of the main things he wants to achieve if elected is to “restore trust, transparency and responsibility at City Hall.”
“I will work to ensure that the Council listens to the individual communities instead of imposing their own personal agendas, so that we can use our taxpayer dollars for projects with broad support,” Gaspar continued. “I will insist that City meetings occur in the Council Chambers instead of the back room. Finally, I will lead on getting the best outcomes for Encinitas, negotiating good deals and will never allow ‘sweetheart’ real estate transactions for school districts and Council-favored special interest groups. It is these types of deals that erode the public trust and make citizens suspect that there is foul play occurring at City Hall, which is in no one’s best interests.
“If we can turn City Hall around, we will have the resources to improve our quality of life and deliver the amenities and services the citizens rightfully expect.”
Some of the other main issues Gaspar is concerned about for Encinitas include:
Land Use: “There is wide agreement that Encinitas should protect the community character of its unique communities. The Council needs a new strategic leader who can produce the best outcome because the Council majority has repeatedly demonstrated poor judgment, poor strategy and changed their minds (six times on density bonus law) costing taxpayers nearly a million dollars. I will develop an effective strategy on land use, but it will be legal and done without provoking powerful special interests who have been targeting our city, making an example out of us for violating state law.”
Fiscal responsibility: “I will restore fiscal responsibility by making the right decisions the first time using strategic forward thinking skills. The city must stop squandering money on items like buying Pacific School for $10 million, (three times the appraised value), wasting over $700,000 on unwinnable lawsuits and choosing the wrong Rail Trail alignment, which cost $800,000 for plans which were rendered useless when the Council changed its mind.”
Gaspar also pledged to put improving traffic, the rail trail and public safety at the top of his list of priorities if elected. He feels that, between him and Blakespear, he is the city’s best chance for success in these areas:
“I have real life experience using informed judgment to make good decisions the first time by bringing people together and striking a balance between their various interests,” Gaspar explained. “I bring no personal or partisan agendas, just common sense and a proven successful track record, as evidenced by my successful business and service on multiple high-level boards.
“I won the American Physical Therapy Association’s State Government Affairs Award in 2011 and pledge to end the city’s dubious honor of winning back-to-back Golden Fleece Awards from the San Diego Taxpayers’ Association.
“I pledge to never advocate for, or impose a personal or partisan agenda, on the unique communities or citizens in Encinitas. Examples include, championing of the Rail Trail on the East side; pushing an expensive and noisy at-grade crossing in Cardiff; a blanket agricultural ordinance allowing large front yard fruit stores, 25 chickens and three beehives in residential neighborhoods — with neighbors having no right to object — and a ‘cookie cutter’ complete streets traffic plan to eliminate and/or narrow car traffic lanes, which will cause gridlock and worsen our quality of life.”