The Encinitas City Council voted unanimously to bring a sense of youth to the governmental body on Wednesday, Jan. 9.
Kellie Shay Hinze, 33, was appointed to fill the seat of former council member Tasha Boerner Horvath, who was elected to the California Assembly in November.
Hinze -- who lives in Leucadia and has served as the executive director of the Leucadia 101 Main Street Association, a nonprofit, since 2017 -- was among five applicants who vied for the position Wednesday night. Originally, 10 people had applied for the position but either rescinded their applications or were found to be ineligible for the job prior to the meeting.
Among the applicants who also spoke were Tony Brandenburg, who narrowly lost in the November election to council member Joe Mosca; Kevin Doyle, an Encinitas planning commissioner; Susie Nancarrow Glenn, a residential real estate broker; and William Morrison, a landscape architect and one of the founding members of Leucadia 101.
The appointment follows Encinitas' move to district elections in which residents of specific communities vote for their representative along with an at-large mayor. Because Boerner Horvath was elected at-large and her seat was not up for another two years, people from throughout the city could apply for the position, which represents District 2 (largely encompassed by Leucadia).
Council member Tony Kranz said it was important that whoever was appointed to the position be eligible to run in the 2020 election, when the seat's term is up.
Mayor Catherine Blakespear also said she liked the youthfulness Hinze would bring to the table, as well as her relevant leadership experience with Leucadia 101.
“I think it’s great to have a millennial up here," Blakespear said. "Her ability to engage the youth community is invaluable.”
The mayor also touted Hinze's ability to speak three languages -- English, Spanish and Portuguese -- as helpful to engage with more residents.
More than half of the nearly 30 speakers also supported Hinze for the position.
Many said Hinze, who moved to Encinitas as an infant and graduated from San Dieguito Academy, would represent and engage younger residents. One speaker said she "thinks globally and acts locally."
"By appointing Kellie, you don’t just get a council member," said resident Judy Berlfein. "You get a community of involved citizens. ... She turns residents into citizens.”
In her cover letter to the council, Hinze said she would focus on key issues such as environmental protection, mobility, economic development, downtown revitalization and civic engagement. She said her role at Leucadia 101 has given her the necessary skills to make decisions as well as "listen, learn and lead."
She said she understands the city's strategic goals and has worked to help implement the styrofoam ban and has served on the Coastal Mobility and Livability Working Group, the Economic Development Strategy Group, the Cultural Tourism Committee and the informal Subcommittee of Encinitas' first public Electric Vehicle Charging Station.
"I am well-equipped with deep insight into the sensitivities of working with the public and the diplomatic skills required of a public servant," Hinze said in her letter. "Having served with Leucadia 101 over the past six years, I am qualified to ensure continuity and outstanding representation of our core values within a very nuanced and intricate community."
Hinze said she would step down from her position at Leucadia 101 to serve on the council. She will take the oath of office at a future council meeting.
During public comments, the remaining 10 speakers recommended Brandenburg for the job, pointing to his experience as a chief judge and in various groups, including the Encinitas Planning Commission, as relevant and useful experience.
One speaker said Brandenburg -- who earned nearly 49 percent of votes from District 4 (Olivenhain and New Encinitas) in November -- represents those who don't always agree with the council. The speaker added that Brandenburg could bring balance to the governmental body, as he has advocated against council-approved projects such as the Leucadia Streetscape and the latest attempt at the city's housing element.