Q&A: Meet the Del Mar City Council candidates

There are six candidates vying for three open seats on the Del mar City Council. The election is Nov. 8. Below, in alphabetical order, are biographies and their answers to questions. 

Name: Jim Benedict

Education: B.A. California Western University, M.B.A. Seattle University

Occupation: Retired. Former Ad/PR agency principal Benedict, Rubenstein, and Spicer

Community Involvement: Currently on the City of Del Mar Finance Committee

1. Why are you running for office?

I have served on multiple Del Mar committees, including the Finance Committee. Serving the city by sitting on City Council just seems to be the logical progression for serving our community.

2. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing Del Mar?

The most complicated – easy – short-term rentals, followed closely by the Design Review Board review process. Measure Q passing will need strong leadership to properly allocate these funds.

3. What are your thoughts on the two ballot initiatives: Measure Q and Measure R?

Measure Q is a great way for visitors to help pay for services they use. Over 85 percent of our sales tax comes from visitors. Visitors use our lifeguard services, public safety services, road maintenance, and currently pay nearly nothing for these services. This is a fair and equitable way for visitors to help pay their fair share. I fully support prioritizing Measure Q funds to go toward 1) undergrounding all of our utilities, 2) funding upgrades at the Shores Park, and 3) improving our cityscape.

Measure R is a disaster. Supported by those who do not want Watermark to succeed. All of the council and five of six candidates do not like this measure. I support the strong disapproval of this measure.

4. What will you do to help improve the lives of your constituents?

What I have learned from this race is that there are strong in-fighting between factions of this city. It is sad, even vicious. I hope to help mend fences.

5. Tell voters something interesting about yourself.

In 1972, right out of college, I opened a wine and cheese store in Del Mar (next to Bully’s) called The Cork n’ Cheddar. A really fun experience and I continue to make homemade wine today!

Name: Al Corti

Education: Graduate of the School of Hard Knocks; Mastered in the Golden Rule!

Occupation: Real estate developer/executive; executive at The Hahn Company; owner/founder of Corti Retail Strategies Inc. and The Corti Gilchrist Partnership, llc

Community Involvement:

Form Based Code member; Traffic Parking Advisory committee member; Design Review Board member; City Council member; deputy mayor and mayor of Del Mar; council liaison to Finance Committee, Business Advisory Committee, Planning Department, DMVA, Fairgrounds Relations Committee, Traffic Parking Advisory Committee, and City Hall design and construction oversight

1. Why are you running for office?

I ran for office to serve the broader community. I wanted to represent the silent majority who are not being heard over the loud and controlling minority.

I take my responsibility as your city representative seriously and work hard to avoid the political entrapment of special interest groups who attempt to advance their agenda vs. the agenda and priorities of the broader community.

With this in mind, over the last four years as your Del Mar council member, I have progressed the city forward by:

- Builing miles of pedestrian friendly sidewalks

-Passing the affordable housing element

-Starting construction of the new city hall

-Refocusing city budgeting to fulfill your priorities to better serve the community needs and desires with improved roads and services

-Ensuring that we do all fiscally responsible and maintain our AAA credit rating.

I asked and listened to what the community wanted. Then I focused my energy and talents delivering to the majority what they indicated they needed and desired. I asked what the problems were. Then I strove to arrive at consensus driven, analytical and objective solutions.

I want to implement these important initiatives; not just study and talk about them nor divide the community in the process:

-Undergrounding utilities

-Safe pedestrian passage across the tracks to our beaches

-Implement a better security alternative to satisfy the needs and demands of the community that cannot be provided by the Sheriff’s contract

-Finish city hall on schedule and within budget

-Initiate meaningful revitalization to our downtown

-Create 22 affordable housing units

-Achieve a workable solution to the short-term rental problems

-Protect and administer the Design Review Ordinance so the process for both property owners and neighbors alike is fair and objective.

There is still much to do. I feel I am uniquely talented and now experienced to accomplish what we started over the last four years. That is why I decided to rerun for City Council again.

2. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing Del Mar?

Arriving at fact-based and objective solutions to issues and problems facing Del Mar that serve the entire community and not just the vocal minority.

3. What are your thoughts on the two ballot initiatives: Q and R?

I am in support of Measure Q.

It will allow the city to get 100 percent of sales tax benefit to use for what we as a city want and need. If passed, it will enable us to make major infrastructure improvements in roads, parks and utilities and it will enable us to afford more for enhanced security and other essential services.

It is the single best way to raise revenues from more than 5 million service hungry visitors and use it to support the 4,278 residents that pay the bills.

I am against Measure R.

It is flawed and problematic in that it will subject us to costly litigation and undermines the Design Review Process. Measure R will do the same to all of our commercial areas as Measure B has done to our downtown commercial area. Measure R will stifle development and reinvestment by property owners and continue to contribute to the decay of our village atmosphere and commercial vibrancy.

4. What will you do to help improve the lives of your constituents?

The Community Plan and the Design Review Ordinance are the cornerstone of what makes Del Mar the community in which we live and love. It defines the character of our community, protects us from over development and has proven effective for more than 30 years in increasing our property values.

We must remain a quaint, Village by the Sea. If we respect the Community Plan and the Design Review Ordinance, we will continue to prosper and maintain our unique character.

I will fiercely protect the Community Plan and the DRO from those that want to use it to further their personal agenda at the expense of Del Mar property owners and residents alike.

5. Tell voters something interesting about yourself.

I never envisioned getting into politics. When I retired from the 80-plus hour work weeks, I had the time and desire to give back to my community, which has served me and my family.

I was instilled at an early age by remarkable immigrant parents growing up in the East Bronx to work hard, ethically, respectful to all and treat others as you want to be treated.

I aspire to live by these values every day and apply them to all aspects of my life… family, career and now as council member of Del Mar.

I strive for honesty, integrity and character for you and your City Council.

Name: Dave Druker

Education: B.A. mathematics, USC; M.S. counseling, USC

Occupation: Technology executive, DataSkill, Inc.

Community Involvement: Former council member and three-time mayor (1996 - 2008)

1. Why are you running for office?

I enjoy serving the citizens of Del Mar and there are a number of critical issues before the city that require an experienced voice of reason who will put residents first.

2. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing Del Mar?

We need the right to vote on major development projects. We need the right to cross the railroad tracks to access the beach and bluff and have safe crossings. We need to enforce the community plan in terms of short-term rental businesses. We need to have more effective policing without creating our own police force. We need to fix our deteriorating residential roads. We need to complete the Camino del Mar streetscape to create a more vibrant downtown. We need to implement new technologies to provide more transparency and better communication between residents and government. We need to plan for climate change impacts.

3. What are your thoughts on the two ballot initiatives: Measure Q and Measure R?

I support Measure Q and ask people to vote their conscience.

I support Measure R. Del Mar residents should have the right to vote on major development projects.

4. What will you do to help improve the lives of your constituents?

Expedite residential street and road repair. Implement the Camino del Mar streetscape. Attend the Del Mar Farmers’ Market on a monthly basis to listen to residents’ ideas and concerns. Provide a fresh connection to innovative opportunities to make Del Mar safer, greener, healthier, technologically sophisticated and energy efficient.

5. Tell voters something interesting about yourself.

I have a 23-year-old African Gray parrot named Hermes.

Name:

Ellen “Ellie” Haviland

Education:

B.A., quantitative economics and decision science, minors in mathematics, urban studies and philosophy, University of California, San Diego

PMP, Project Management Professional, Project Management Institute (PMI), USA

Occupation:

I devoted 17 years to my career as an executive in the health care industry. I am now retired.

Community Involvement:

Del Mar Planning Commission member

1. Why are you running for office?

Del Mar has been my home for 18 years; it is a special community. We have beautiful beaches and climate, lots of open space, and an active, involved citizenry. As your city council member, I would utilize my education and experience to make prudent decisions on your behalf to manage the city’s resources wisely and address the issues that most concern our residents, consistent with our Community Plan. Working together, we can meet the challenges ahead.

2. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing Del Mar?

Most residents I’ve spoken with want our neighborhoods protected from overdevelopment with safe, well-maintained streets. Our neighborhoods now feel the impacts from short-term rental businesses. Concerns over the vitality of our village commercial areas are widespread. Climate change presents near-term challenges. Public safety services can be improved. Our political discourse should be free of divisiveness and respectful of differences of opinion. Initially, I want to focus on these issues and work toward effective, creative solutions.

3. What are your thoughts on the two ballot initiatives: Measure Q and Measure R?

I support Measure Q. The 1 percent sales tax will raise about $2 million for the city. I will ensure these funds are spent wisely, on projects benefitting the entire community, including our business areas.

I oppose Measure R. I support the right to vote on major, controversial issues, but the city attorney has given her opinion that this initiative conflicts with several state laws and will result in legal controversy and uncertainty.

4. What will you do to help improve the lives of your constituents?

My priorities are: Continuing streetscape enhancements to improve the appearance, walkability and business climate of our village center; making our design review process more transparent, objective and fair; cooperating with regional agencies to provide permanent, safe access to our beaches and bluffs; improving response times and visible presence of our law enforcement services; preserving property values through prudent, sustainable land use decision making; seeing to the successful completion of the city hall and Shores Park.

5. Tell voters something interesting about yourself.

I will bring a new and independent perspective to Del Mar city government, in keeping with our Community Plan goals; and focused on making Del Mar more family and business friendly and environmentally sustainable. I want to encourage civility and respect for differing points of view in our civil discourse. My husband Tim and I are passionate about preserving all that’s wonderful about our community, and working to make it even better for our children.

Name: Sherryl Parks

Education: B.A., Whitman College; University of Washington teaching credential (K-12); theology, and counseling

Occupation: Mayor, Del Mar; Medical School Tutorial Program, UCSD; (retired) public and private school teaching.

Community Involvement: 42 years in Del Mar

1. Why are you running for office?

In my first term on City Council I led the planning and implementation of the downtown renaissance in Del Mar starting with city hall. I am running to ensure that as the pace of development grows, we retain the values captured in the Community Plan. The reason Del Mar property values are among the highest in the county is that developers’ values have not supplanted our Community Plan. Yet, economic renaissance must be part of our plan.

2. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing Del Mar?

The biggest challenge facing our small city is to preserve the residential character of our neighborhoods while accommodating millions of visitors each year. I will continue to work to prohibit quick turn rentals in our neighborhoods, preserve safe beach access, improve our streets and sidewalks, and complete the new city hall as the cornerstone of a downtown renaissance.

3. What are your thoughts on the two ballot initiatives: Measure Q and Measure R?

I am in favor of Measure Q to fund important infrastructure updates our neighborhoods need.

Maintaining our beaches, regulating traffic and parking, and providing for the health and safety of our residents and visitors are costly. Measure Q raises a small portion of the cost from visitors.

I oppose Measure R because it will result in delays to projects revitalizing our city, costly litigation and state-imposed housing density increases. No major project has ever been approved by City Council without submitting it to a vote of residents.

4. What will you do to help improve the lives of your constituents?

The ocean will continue to rise, the weather will continue to warm, and the bluffs will continue to erode. The Fairgrounds will schedule more events. I-5 will be widened and One Paseo will be built. NCTD wants more double tracking and an increased number of trains. New disruptive technologies such as Airbnb will constantly challenge us. I will vigorously fight for you to minimize the negative effects of traffic, noise and pollution on our neighborhoods.

5. Tell voters something interesting about yourself.

I was raised in an orchard-town in Washington State. I learned the importance of neighbors and relying on friends. What you don’t know is that I, too, have endured the disruption of neighbors’ projects going on endlessly. I want to solve that problem and so many others so we can enjoy our beautiful village. Each day I take my clipboard and whittle away at the problems you have shared with me. I am an optimist.

Name: T. Patrick (T. Pat) Stubbs

Education: B.A. journalism, San Diego State University

Occupation: Businessman

Community Involvement: I have lived in Del Mar with my wife Marti Jo and our two sons for over 20 years and have deep ties in the community. My first job was at the Del Mar Fair. I went on to spend 19 years marketing the Del Mar Racetrack and now co-own Pacifica Del Mar restaurant. I served over eight years as a member and chairman of Del Mar’s Design Review Board, including 12 months as its chair and 36 months as its vice chair. Currently, I am a Del Mar Foundation board member and chair of the Summer Twilight Concerts. I co-founded the Del Mar Village Association, and have served the boards of the Torrey Pines Foundation, the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Dieguito and the Rotary Club.

1. Why are you running for office?

For nearly three decades, Del Mar has been governed by people who do not listen to residents or address their priorities. I am running because I want to bring impartial responsive leadership to our city, making sure every voice and concern is heard and respected. Together we can make decisions that will guide us toward a vibrant future.

2. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing Del Mar?

We must honor our strong Community Plan and ensure its consistent and impartial enforcement to retain and encourage businesses and much-need improvements. We must make sure that our residents are safe, eliminate delayed law enforcement response times, and ensure that all solutions are economically feasible. We also must address citizens’ need for beach access and improved rail safety. Additionally, we must listen to our residents and address their priorities, use our resources efficiently, and better monitor and manage our existing streams of revenue. According to the most recent citizens’ survey, the community believes that the most important issues we face are the lack of vibrancy in our downtown and neighborhoods and a poor public safety plan that does not provide adequate policing. Also, we must remedy the failures of the past and current leadership to address longtime problems associated with beach access and safe crossings along the rail corridor.

3. What are your thoughts on the two ballot initiatives: Measure Q and Measure R?

Measure Q will be decided by the voters and, by all current accounts, appears to have overwhelming citywide support. If Q passes, I promise to ensure the new revenue is used only for the priorities that Del Mar residents identify, not just for projects that are preferentially selected by longtime insiders. Measure R will kill revitalization and I do not support it. Ballot box land use planning, like Measure R, reflects an unhealthy breakdown in normal governance. Measure R is a frustrated last resort that we do not need.

4. What will you do to help improve the lives of your constituents?

I will listen to them and work together to impartially identify problems and create solutions that work for everyone in Del Mar.

5. Tell voters something interesting about yourself.

I co-founded the Del Mar Powerhouse Baseball Program so that girls and boys throughout the community could participate in the sport of baseball at a competitive level.

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