Commentary: Candidate Debate

Unlike most previous unremarkable City Council debates run by the League of Women Voters, the October 10 video session produced some remarkable observations. Candidate Quirk was dramatically overshadowed by the professionalism and knowledge displayed by Worden and Gaasterland. Many of Quirk’s shallow responses seemed to be copied directly from his twin brother Dan’s campaign brochures from two years ago. He appeared not to have prepared for the debate with facts, using mostly generalizations and tired campaign slogans. A few of his contradictions follow.


Quirk sloganizes in favor of cutting taxes, yet his only cited civic activity is his support for Measure Q, a sales tax increase. In lamenting that these Q funds are not creating undergrounding fast enough he seems not to understand that  sales tax has to be accumulated before it can be spent. Furthermore, the first tranche of Q funds were spent to support  improvements in downtown where he claims to support downtown business revitalization. And finally the first phase of underground funding approved by his twin brother is now showing almost a 50% cost overrun. So much for the Quirk twins’ purported financial management prowess.


The questions about relocating the train tracks and tunnel route studies revealed more of Quirk’s difficulty disambiguating complicated problems. He stated he wants to prevent fencing on the tracks, protect the bluffs opposing a tunnel under Del Mar; he has jumped to the conclusion it would be “devastating” and “destructive to our way of life,” without waiting for the benefit of environmental and feasibility studies. He also wonders why the Blue Line trolley cannot be extended to Oceanside, but fails to talk about how freight and national defense uses cannot be accommodated on such a  light rail system.  


The business of leading Del Mar’s local government enterprise requires considerable experience and expertise. Both Worden and Gaasterland have demonstrated the required ability and seriousness of purpose to deal with the complex and consequential challenges facing Del Mar. Quirk’s experience running a start-up business out of his garage hardly measures up to the professionalism and experience of Worden and Gaasterland. These two may not always agree but there is little doubt about how deep they dig into complicated issues to find the best interests of Del Mar. 


Over many decades Del Mar’s most successful leaders have earned voter confidence by demonstrating their capabilities as volunteers in our vital network of citizen committees. We voters would be taking quite a risk betting on a candidate with such a thin track record and sophomoric campaign.