Lee Haydu looks ahead to first term as mayor of Del Mar

By Kristina Houck

Lee Haydu has seen change throughout her three years on the Del Mar City Council, but as the city’s new mayor, she hopes to see even more change.

“We’re trying to get some things done,” said Haydu, who was appointed the city’s new mayor in a unanimous vote of the council during the Dec. 9 meeting. “I feel you have to be proactive to move forward, and that’s what I’d like for this council to continue.”

A Del Mar resident for more than 30 years, Haydu was elected to the City Council in 2010. She served as deputy mayor throughout the last year, and replaces former Mayor Terry Sinnott.

Since joining the dais, Haydu said she is proud the council addressed the city’s unfunded pension liability and adopted a sidewalk improvement plan. She is also pleased the city opened its beach safety center.

But there is still a list of items she wants to accomplish to improve Del Mar.

At the top of her list? Moving forward with plans for a new City Hall.

Residents who attended the Dec. 2 community workshop agreed the city needs to replace its current facilities at 1050 Camino Del Mar. City officials noted it was never Del Mar’s plan to remain in the former schoolhouse permanently after moving there in 1975, but plans for a new City Hall have failed to move forward in the past.

“I know we’ve tried this several times before, but hopefully we’ve learned from the mistakes of trying to move it forward back then, and we can get it done this time,” Haydu said.

Haydu would also like to develop a parking management plan and a master plan for the Shores property.

“All of these projects are geared toward working with the community to find solutions to current challenges,” Haydu said.

In the next year, the council also expects to look at a number of proposed development projects. At the same time, Haydu hopes to continue to build the city’s relationship with the Fairgrounds, the business community and Del Mar residents.

“It’s a lot on our plate,” Haydu said. “I just think the challenge is trying to get it all done.”

As 2013 marks the start of her first term as mayor, it also marks the end of a difficult year for the community leader.

After a long battle with leukemia, her husband, Dr. Paul Haydu, died Feb. 26 at the age of 67. He served as medical director of the Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at Tri-City Medical Center.

“I’ve gone through a lot with my husband passing away. It’s not been an easy year,” said Haydu, who believed her husband was in long-term remission when she decided to run for office.

“But when Paul passed away, I felt like the whole community was behind me. Everyone was very supportive.”

The small-town feel of Del Mar is just one of the many reasons why the couple settled in the beachside community in 1982.

A Georgia native, Haydu earned a bachelor’s in science from Augusta College, now known as Georgia Regents University. For 10 years, she lived in New York, where she worked in medical sales, before relocating to Del Mar.

Haydu worked as a stay-at-home mother, her two daughters are now 24 and 26 years old. Active in the city for more than two decades, she also served on the Del Mar San Dieguito Lagoon Committee and the Del Mar Heights Elementary Site Council.

“I enjoy the people and trying to make Del Mar a better place all the way around — make it a better place for everybody,” she said.

When she isn’t working or visiting her daughters, Haydu enjoys gardening, walking, going to the movies and spending time with friends.

“I love living in Del Mar,” Haydu said. “It’s a wonderful place.”