As our three Council candidates rev up their campaigns for two seats, we should be thinking about issues and leadership capabilities.
Leadership in government and politics requires a very different blend of skills than in other spheres of endeavor. It is key to have a keen understanding of how laws, decision processes, and political agendas are intertwined. Leadership in the smallest city adds another important dimension—how to maximize our leverage with other cities and the county where decisions get made that affect Del Mar’s best interests. The same goes for some important state and national level decisions.
In addition to tuning into the needs and wishes of Delmarians, our leaders have to respect the agendas of other entities we do business with. Leadership in this context is not giving speeches or holding press conferences. Too often those theatrics can actually undermine our prospects for getting cooperation from other jurisdictions. And, given our wealth advantages, we sometimes can garner an elitist reputation, thumbing our noses at others. Our leaders need to be good influencers, making human connections one-to-one, building alliances, and earning trust. Over the years we have enjoyed outsized successes because we elected Councilmembers who earn respect from other elected leaders.
Two of our candidates, Worden and Gaasterland, have track records we can look at to evaluate them as leaders. One candidate, Quirk, has had no previous involvement in governmental leadership so we need to find other ways to evaluate his leadership potential.
We voters also need to evaluate candidates on issues they will face if elected. One level of issues that is fundamental involves the efficiency and effectiveness of day-to-day governmental operations such as public works, planning, public safety, beach protection, and, very importantly, financial management. Those elected need to govern in the interests of all citizens, not just those who support their campaigns.
There are other more consequential and existential issues that caution us to choose leaders who are clear thinking and strategic. Five at the top of the list are sea level rise, bluff erosion/train track relocation, San Onofre nuclear waste, climate change, and housing crisis.
Of course, none of these can be solved by our small town alone but we need to be in the rooms at the tables where decisions get made. This is no place for light weight, sophomoric Councilmembers trying out fanciful ideas.
The bottom line is there is a lot at stake in this election. We need smart, mature, experienced, competent Councilmembers to help guide us through this thicket. Evaluate your choices thoughtfully.