By Claire Harlin
A little over 25 years ago, Gloria Curry played an integral role in starting the city of Solana Beach from scratch. As the city’s first interim city manager, she did everything from hiring city staff to executing contracts to running the office (which, at that time, was only two rooms with one phone).
“Everybody on the first council will tell you she came in with city manager experience and she really made a difference. There was no structure at all and she made things happen, things as basic as setting up an office,” said Ruby Edman of the Solana Beach Civic and Historical Society, which is hosting an event on Feb. 13 to honor Solana Beach government “pioneers” like Curry who contributed leadership during that crucial time of cityhood in 1986.
Twelve former and current civic leaders, many from the first city council, will be honored at the lunch event, which will take place at the Belly Up from noon to 2 p.m. There will also be a memorial recognition for Jack Moore, the financial analyst who garnered the confidence of the community in the mid-1980s by showing the public Solana Beach could sustain itself financially. The city’s incorporation had previously been voted down due to that concern.
Moore and several other honorees were part of a group called Citizens Intending To Incorporate (CITI), which steered the campaign for Solana Beach to become a city.
This is the fourth Valentine Venture event, a tradition that was started by the Civic and Historical Society to recognize the people who made Solana Beach what it is today and sustain those legacies. The first three recognition events honored business community leaders from the Cedros Design District, La Colonia de Eden Gardens, and Highway 101. Edman, who has been a resident of Solana Beach since its beginnings, wanted to honor city government pioneers this year because she said the theme fits perfectly with the city’s 25-year anniversary.
“All of the people being recognized had a specific job and made a very clear and observable contribution,” said Edman, who chose the honorees with the help of Margaret Schlesinger, the city’s first mayor.
“What we are doing is helping to remember our heritage and that people had to make contributions early on to be what we are today,” Edman said.
She added that the event coincides with Valentine’s Day because “if we are giving a tribute, recognizing people who have given a contribution, it’s like we are giving them a valentine and saying ‘We appreciate you.’”
Honorees include Solana Beach mayor Joe Kellejian, who was one of the first Town Council members prior to Solana Beach becoming a city.
“He’s a good representation of an early civic leader,” Edman said.
Also being honored are City Councilman Tom Campbell, who was a liaison to the Chamber of Commerce; Mike Huse, the city’s first permanent city manager; and several members of the first Solana Beach City Council: Marion Dodson, Celine Olson, Richard Hendlin and Margaret Schlesinger. Jack Peek, who was co-chair of the General Plan Committee, will also be recognized, along with several former members of CITI: Gail Paparian, Michael Newhouse and Sandy Parish. The presenter for the event will be Deputy Mayor Dave Roberts.
To attend Valentine Venture at the Belly Up, 143 S. Cedros, Solana Beach, send a $30 check by Feb. 6 payable to SBC&HS and noting Valentine Venture to: SBC&HS, P.O. Box 504, Solana Beach, CA, 92075. Please include the names of each person attending. For more information, call Edman at (858) 755-1414.