Editorial: Del Mar at a Crossroads

Del Mar faces a critical juncture soon, when the nomination period for three City Council seats opens in mid-July. John Spelich and Michael Minter have said they will run; it’s too early to tell who else will throw their hats into the ring. But with a twice-censured incumbent likely to run again – and rumors that his identical twin brother, who ran and lost in 2022, will also run – we will soon be at a crossroads requiring us to choose the leadership Del Mar will have starting this December. Will we have a Council that seeks consensus based on careful listening to our community? Or will we have the kind of performative, divisive politics that has found favor on the national scene in recent times?


The Sandpiper encourages those who have a proven track record of successful, collaborative leadership, as demonstrated in their careers, volunteer work and political activities, to step up to lead Del Mar. Here are critical skills we think are important:

  • Diligent listening for understanding
  • Smart, respectful questioning
  • In-depth “homework,” seeking out experience and expertise
  • Responsiveness to citizens
  • Ability to explain difficult realities to upset citizens
  • Skill in creating Council consensus where possible
  • Ability to build relationships with other decision makers (regional, state, federal) and earn their trust
  • Careful composition of public statements
  • Learning from mistakes; responsive to facts and evidence
  • Resourceful problem solving
  • Strategic long-term thinking


The Sandpiper has long advocated that those who are potentially interested in the Council begin with service on one of Del Mar’s quasi-judicial bodies – the Design Review Board and Planning Commission – or on one or more of the City’s many advisory committees. This provides useful knowledge and experience in how city government works, and gives residents the opportunity to assess their leadership potential – whether good or problematic.  (In hindsight, perhaps voters in 2020 should have inquired why Dan Quirk’s stint as chair of the Undergrounding Committee ended after six months, and whether that short tenure signaled poor leadership qualities.)


Of the three Councilmembers whose seats are up for election in November, one (Mayor Dave Druker) is not expected to run again; the other two – Tracy Martinez and Dan Quirk – have an extensive Council record voters can scrutinize to make informed judgments. For other candidates, the Sandpiper encourages all residents to consider the leadership qualities outlined above, along with the candidates’ values and vision for Del Mar, in choosing our next leaders. This year, we are truly at a crossroads.