Although Del Mar City Council voted in August to appoint Councilman Terry Sinnott to his second term and former Del Mar City Attorney Dwight Worden to his first, both candidates hit the campaign trail until Nov. 4.
Sinnott, who voted against canceling the election, argued that campaigning gives the public a chance to meet the candidates.
“When you’re sitting on the council and you’re trying to make some difficult decisions, it really helps if you know that you’re in connection and have an understanding of what people are thinking in the community,” he said.
Having held a series of get-togethers with residents, often with Worden, Sinnott began his second term Dec. 2 knowing what’s important to his neighbors and ready for four more years to make a difference.
“My hope is to move things forward,” he said.
A Del Mar resident for nearly 40 years, Sinnott was first elected to the council in 2010. He served as mayor in 2013, a position that rotates among council members.
Reflecting on his first four years on the council, Sinnott said he is proud that Del Mar paid off a $3 million side fund pension liability using the city’s general fund and water fund reserves, hired an independent consultant to review the Sheriff’s contract to determine how the city could reduce costs and improve service, and created an ad-hoc double track advisory committee to develop a list of impacts regarding SANDAG’s double track and special events platform project, among other accomplishments.
“Believe it or not, those are projects that you wouldn’t think would take four years, but they do,” he said. “Things move very slowly.”
With a desire to help move along other pending projects, Sinnott decided to seek re-election.
Under Sinnott’s leadership as then-mayor, Del Mar initiated the City Hall planning process in June 2013. Since then, the council has discussed the project at a number of council meetings, issued a citywide survey and held three public workshops on replacing the deteriorating facilities at 1050 Camino del Mar.
At the Dec. 1 meeting, council members narrowed the choices to two — another step forward in what has already been an 18-month process.
“It would be a shame if we miss the opportunity, the way interest rates are, to not finance a project that the city truly needs,” Sinnott said. “You’ve got to hand it to the city staff for putting up with the kind of office environment that they work in. It’s amazing that they get all the things done that they get done.”
Besides moving forward with plans for a new City Hall, Sinnott also looks forward to collaborating on a master plan for Del Mar Shores Park, completing sidewalk improvements along Jimmy Durante Boulevard and carrying out an agreement with Solana Beach on wastewater transportation.
Acknowledging the finance committee’s efforts, he also wants to continue to work with the Sheriff’s Department on improving the quality of policing in the community.
“The sheriff does a really good job at responding to serious calls for service, but because of the nature of Del Mar, with all the visitors coming to the beach and coming through the community, less-serious calls are still a problem,” said Sinnott, noting that issues such as theft and traffic enforcement are particularly important to residents.
“We’re trying to figure out how we can improve policing services for those kinds of issues, improve the response time, improve the visual presence of the police force, and just improve the quality of those services.”
In the coming year, the council could also look at potential development projects for the Garden Del Mar and Watermark properties.
“Those are two kind of vacant, unimproved sore thumbs,” Sinnott said. “We’re hoping that through good communication, involvement and planning, those will be assets that could be added in the next couple of years to make the community better.”
A San Diego native, Sinnott has a long history of service not only to the community, but also the country.
After graduating from Pomona College in 1967, he served two tours as a U.S. Navy officer — one in Vietnam and another as an instructor in San Diego.
In 1972, he joined San Diego Gas & Electric, where he worked 22 years in various roles, including industrial engineering, marketing, distribution planning, and customer service. At the same time, he earned his master’s in business administration from San Diego State University.
Sinnott left SDG&E in 1994 to launch his own management consulting business. He worked with more than two dozen local for-profit and nonprofit organizations for the next 13 years.
Using his consulting experience, he helped define the city’s future by facilitating Del Mar’s Vision 2020 workshops in 2002. As part of the city’s long-range plan, which was adopted in 2003, Sinnott successfully brought residents together to have utilities in the Ocean View Pines neighborhood installed underground.
He also served on the city’s finance committee from 2004-2007 and the boards of Del Mar Community Connections and Friends of Del Mar Parks.
Sinnott first ran for council in 2004. One of six candidates for three seats, he came in fourth, 28 votes behind third-place Henry Abarbanel. Former mayors Carl Hilliard and Dave Druker won the other two spots.
After the loss of his wife, Judi, in 2007, Sinnott ran for council again and was elected in 2010.
“I thought that I could be of value to the group,” Sinnott said. “I love the community. Even though things are good, I want things to improve.”
When not prepping for council meetings on Sundays or attending numerous meetings, Sinnott is often enjoying the community with his wife, Marilyn, or spending time with his two grown children and five grandchildren.
But he enjoys every minute of being involved in Del Mar, and with “key decisions” on the horizon, he encouraged community members to stay involved or become involved in the decision-making process.
“We are making some key decisions this year,” Sinnott said. “Whether it’s City Hall, the Shores property or other priorities the city’s making, I would just encourage folks to keep abreast of what’s going on and stay involved. The input is very, very valuable.”