Del Mar City Council election uncontested

Isn’t Del Mar


going to have another contested election? For the third season in a row, the number of candidates is equal to the number of openings. Incumbent Don Mosier, Sherryl Parks, and Al Corti will join the council in December.

I am reminded that “Parkinson’s Law” includes the idea that, if a help-wanted advertisement were perfectly written, it would attract only one applicant — and that would be the right person for the job.

The recent trend of uncontested elections stands in sharp contrast to the intensity of Del Mar politics in earlier times. In the 1970s, a council majority was captured by candidates favoring environmental protection and planned growth, including Richard Rypinski and a very young Tom Shepard (now working for Democrat Bob Filner after a career as a Republican political consultant). Community workshops led to the creation in 1976 of the Del Mar Community Plan, which became the constitution of the village and the mission statement of the environmentalist or “green” faction.

In the 1980s, congruent with the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the council was captured by conservative, business-friendly candidates. This “gray” (as in concrete) faction, often guided by realtor Tom Pearson, sought to weaken or circumvent the Community Plan.

By 1988, after epic struggles over the Del Mar Plaza shopping center, L’Auberge Del Mar hotel, and a Beach Protection Initiative, the “green” faction had won a 5-0 majority. Their allies have held a council majority ever since, but with ever less color-coding.

As few large developments have been proposed since the 1980s, Del Mar politics gradually became less polarized. These days, the most contentious issue is the proposed Village Specific Plan to make Del Mar more pedestrian-friendly. The VSP would increase densities in the business district, widen sidewalks, add apartments above businesses on the west side of Camino del Mar, narrow the coast highway to one lane in each direction, and replace traffic lights and stop signs with roundabouts. Voters will determine the fate of the VSP in November. Opponents promise a vigorous campaign.

Hopefully the money and energy that would have been expended in a contested council election can be diverted into other important races in our region — for county supervisor (Dave Roberts vs. Steve Danon), for Congress (Scott Peters vs. incumbent Brian Bilbray), for San Diego mayor (Bob Filner vs. Carl DeMaio) and city council (incumbent Sherry Lightner vs. Ray Ellis). Our future is at stake.

Gordon Clanton teaches sociology at San Diego State University. He welcomes comments at Previous columns available at: