Dwight Worden: The Sandpiper’s Choice

Based on the conduct of candidates and their surrogates in the campaign to date, we are reiterating our recommendation that voters use their two votes to re-elect Worden and Gaasterland. They both signed the Del Mar pledge to wage a fair and respectful campaign and have lived up to their word. Unfortunately, Quirk and his surrogates have violated that pledge egregiously—see our coverage in this issue. We ask you to consider that in making your ballot choices. Below is the recommendation we made in our October issue. 


The importance of Dwight Worden’s role on our City Council cannot be overstated. His leadership style involves respectful listening, resourceful problem-solving, and facilitation of community consensus. Even in the face of contentious discussions, he treats everyone with respect and helps guide all toward civil discourse and intelligent decisions. He can be counted on to understand the nuances of complex issues and to craft strategies that best serve Del Mar’s interests.


Few have done as much as Dwight Worden to bring to fruition the small-town vision laid out in our Community Plan. Recognized throughout the state as an expert in environmental and municipal law, Worden has been using his know-how for Del Mar’s benefit for more than four decades, serving our citizens and our community as our City Attorney, as legal counsel for regional organizations and environmental and grassroots citizen groups, as a community advocate, as a contributing volunteer on numerous city advisory committees, and as a Del Mar City Council Member and our current Mayor.


As author of the Beach Preservation Initiative (BPI) and special counsel defending the BPI, Worden’s work returned over 66,740 sq ft of beach to public use and ensures the right of property owners to protect their homes with BPI-compliant seawalls. As author of Measure B, his work gave citizens the right to vote on major downtown developments and made sure that two signature properties (the Del Mar Plaza and L’Auberge) were scaled to the vision of our Community Plan. 


In Worden’s eight years on Council, he helped guide the development of our new Civic Center on time and on budget, and supported conservative financial management through the pandemic, Streetscape implementation, and infrastructure improvements to our sewer, water, and streets. He was instrumental in shaping our Adaptation Plan for sea level rise, drafting the specific Plan language that details why managed retreat is not feasible for Del Mar. There is no small irony in the fact that Worden has been viciously and falsely attacked for years for “supporting” managed retreat, when he authored the language against managed retreat in our Plan, and he authored the BPI that protects private beachfront property. He fashioned a compromise plan for short-term rentals that protects our residential core. He supported Measure Q as a source of revenue to support undergrounding, downtown Streetscape, and Shores Park. He has fought to achieve compliance with state housing law in ways that fit with our community character.


He supports reproductive freedom, women’s right to choose, and the right of privacy that protects contraceptive and abortion rights, marriage rights, and other fundamental individual rights. He is in favor of Proposition 1 on our statewide ballot this November to codify reproductive rights into the State Constitution. As a long-time general counsel for the local Planned Parenthood affiliate, he worked for reproductive and privacy rights his entire legal career, and he has actively and consistently supported these rights politically.


Del Mar residents will be well-represented with Dwight Worden’s credibility at regional and state levels, where critical strategic decisions will be made to relocate the rail tracks, fight sea level rise, remove nuclear waste from San Onofre, achieve state housing goals, and modernize regional transportation systems.


In our efforts to protect our small-town character, Del Mar always has a full agenda. Mayor Worden has an unmatched combination of qualifications and values to lead us through these internal and external challenges. We ask our readers to support Dwight Worden’s candidacy, and we endorse him without reservation.

Other candidates

There are two other candidates for the second vacancy on the Council. Terry Gaasterland has served on the Council for the last four years after serving on the Finance Committee and Design Review Board, and she chaired the Sea Level Rise Technical Advisory Committee. Although we have often disagreed with her positions, we recognize that she is supported by many in the community who share our values. Her endorsements from officials within the region suggest that she has the potential to become a stronger representative for Del Mar’s interests at the regional level than she has been in her first term. Although her uneven record (documented in past Sandpiper issues) prevents us from endorsing her, if you choose to cast your second vote in a responsible way, we concede that she is a better choice than the third candidate, Stephen Quirk, who is the twin brother of incumbent Council Member Dan Quirk. We could find no evidence of any civic activity on the part of the second Quirk twin (see commentary about the likely twin problem on Page 7). His answers to the six questions posed by the Sandpiper are generalized and uninformed, and indicate that he is far from ready to assume the responsibilities of a Council Member.