Two familiar faces missing from City Council election

When the filing period closed last month for the race for three open seats on the Del Mar City Council, two familiar names were absent from the list.

Dave Druker and Henry Abarabanel, both 12-year veterans of the council decided not to run for fourth terms.

“It’s time for somebody else, said Druker, who is the current mayor of the city. “It’s time for some new blood. It’s been a big part of my life and it’s not that I don’t enjoy it, I really have. But it shouldn’t be just my view of things. I have a strong belief that people shouldn’t be in the same position all the time.”

Abarbanel likewise, felt the need for a fresh set of eyes on the city.

“I’m a big believer in term limits,” he said. “A few years ago I seriously considered not running for a third term, but the thing I really wanted to do, was to see the completion of the Shores deal (the Ninth Street property purchased from the Del Mar Union School district on behalf of the city). If the Shores property had been sold to the city in 2003, I wouldn’t have run. There are plenty of smart people, especially in Del Mar and I certainly don’t have a corner on that.”

Both councilmen say they are pleased with the three candidates who are running for the three vacant seats on the City Council, incumbent Councilman Carl Hilliard, Planning Commissioner Mark Filanc and Design Review Board member Don Mosier. Unlike neighboring Solana Beach, which recently decided not to hold a council election due to the same scenario in which three candidates filed for a like number of seats, Del Mar must hold the election due to Del Mar’s November ballot containing two qualified measures.

“The two new people have given a whole lot to the city,” said Druker of Filanc and Mosier, “I think people will coalesce around them.”

Abarbanel says he was somewhat surprised that only three people chose to run, but said he likes what he sees in the presumptive council members.

“I’m really pleased with the people who chose to run,” he said, “they all have good skill sets. They are all smart and dedicated to the city.”

Dedication was something not lacking with Druker and Abarbanel. Between them they have a combined 30 years of service to the city, with Abarbanel serving two three-year assignments on the city’s Planning Commission between City Council stints.

A professor of physics at UCSD and research physicist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a 25-year Del Mar resident, Abarbanel will begin a one-year sabbatical this fall that will take him to Zurich, Switzerland, Munich, Germany and the University of Chicago. During the sabbatical he will continue participating in a birdsong research project through UCSD that is examining how baby songbirds learn songs from their fathers and the correlation it has to childhood human language and speech development.

Abarbanel says the sabbatical was not the primary reason for his decision not to seek reelection to the council, calling it “a nice coincidence,” but says he wouldn’t rule out some kind of governmental participation upon his return.

“All residents are participants in our government,” he said. “But I technically never did complete a full term on the Planning Commission and I consider that a skill that I have.”

Druker, a vice-president at local tech company DATASKILL, and a 22-year resident, says he has become increasingly busy at his work and would for now like to put some space between himself and his involvement with the city.

“Eventually there will be issues I will be involved with,” he said. “I just don’t know what my role will be in the next couple of years.”

Druker says his wife Kristen, a history teacher at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, has become a little weary of asking ‘will you be home tonight?’

“We’re not exactly un-busy people,” he adds. “It’s curtailed our lifestyle a little bit and ultimately it gives us a couple of more options during the week.”

Druker says he has several vivid memories of his time on the council including a lawsuit about 10 years ago over the flight path of helicopters from what was then the Miramar Naval Base. He also speaks fondly of the building of the Powerhouse Community Center, which was accomplished during his time in office and several regional successes including the completion of the Sprinter light rail line in a role as a North County Transit District board member.

“It really has been an honor and a privilege to serve this city,” said Druker.

Abarbanel says besides the Shores property deal, he is most proud of a restaurant smoking ban enacted during his term and an adopted trees and scenic views ordinance designed to civilly address disagreements between Del Mar residents.

“This is a community that takes care of itself,” said Abarbanel. “People really care about their city and they get things done and I was happy to be a part of that.”