In an announcement that stunned many supporters, populist Encinitas mayor Teresa Arballo Barth recently announced that she will not run for reelection. In her April 5 email to constituents, she cited her original campaign pledge to hold office for only eight years — two terms — as her reason.
Barth was first swept onto the city council in 2006 when Cardiff by the Sea voters were angered that none of the then-five councilmembers lived in their community. (The city’s 1986 incorporation recognized the five communities that make up Encinitas.)
A political unknown, Barth was president of the Friends of the Cardiff Library when she was recruited to represent her town of 14,000 on the council. She didn't have much of a chance to be elected, running against the conservative business/real estate developer establishment.
But supporters employed a strategy that worked in the two-open-seat election. They encouraged voters to vote for one candidate only — Barth — and not cast their second vote for another candidate. Thus, voters denied the other leading candidates a possible additional vote. Barth received enough votes to beat out the odds-on favorites.
After serving on the council for four years, in 2010 it would have been Barth’s ceremonial turn to be appointed mayor, having served the previous year as vice mayor. However, Barth, usually on the dissenting end of 4-to-1 council votes, was skipped over twice for the mayoral appointment. In 2012, the council majority changed, and Barth was appointed mayor.
The passing-over incident led voters to place Measure K on the November 2012 ballot, which approved the direct vote of future city mayors, beginning in 2014, to two-year terms.
While she says she was being encouraged to run for mayor, she was living up to her campaign promise. “I am especially grateful for those who continued to support me even when we disagreed on individual issues. Thank you for not resorting to the inflammatory rhetoric that currently pervades public discourse,” she added.
Footnote: The City of Encinitas is made up of five communities recognized in the city’s founding documents: Cardiff by the Sea, Old Encinitas (coastal), New Encinitas (inland), Leucadia, and Olivenhain. Each community is prideful of its history and culture, with most city commissions and planning boards representing all five. Cardiff has a separate zip code and school district.