A new mayor, new city clerk and at least one new City Council member will come on board in Carlsbad with next year’s general election.
Mayor Matt Hall has said he plans to retire at the end of 2022 after serving three four-year terms as mayor, preceded by four terms as a council member, a total of 28 years as a Carlsbad elected official. He also was an appointee on the city’s Planning Commission for 10 years before that.
“It’s been a real honor and a pleasure to be able to serve the community,” Hall said Thursday. “Things have really gone in a positive way. I’ve been able to work with some really special people.”
The official filing period for next November’s election is yet to be scheduled, but it will begin sometime in mid-summer. Still, some people have formed campaign committees and taken other steps to indicate their intentions.
The only apparent candidate so far for mayor is Councilmember Keith Blackburn, a retired police officer who’s been on the council since he was first elected in 2008. His Blackburn for Mayor fundraising committee had a cash balance of $121,534 as of June 30, according to the most recent available statement filed Aug. 2 with the city clerk’s office.
Blackburn was re-elected to the District 2 council seat in 2020. The council would have to appoint someone or hold a special election to fill the two years remaining in his term as a council member if he is elected mayor.
The city treasurer position also is up for election in November, and so far no one has announced their intention to run for that job. The current officeholder, Craig Lindholm, was first appointed in 2013 and was unopposed for re-election in 2018.
The city clerk position has been vacant since the retirement of Barbara Engleson, who stepped down in August to move away from Carlsbad with her husband. The City Council decided not to appoint anyone or hold a special election, and no one has yet declared their intention to seek the job next November.
In past elections, the incumbent Carlsbad city clerk also has often run unopposed.
A City Council vacancy opened up in July of this year when former District 1 Councilmember Cori Schumacher, facing a likely recall election, resigned to attend a university outside the area.
Schumacher was first elected to an at-large seat in 2016 before Carlsbad switched to the council district election system. She ran unsuccessfully against Hall for mayor in 2018, then won the District 1 seat in a special election in April 2020 after the newly formed district’s first councilmember, Barbara Hamilton, elected in 2018, resigned citing family health problems.
After Schumacher’s resignation, the remaining four council members appointed long-time Carlsbad resident and businessman Peder Norby to the vacant seat in August with the understanding that he would serve out the term and not seek re-election in 2022.
District 1 represents the city’s northwest quadrant and includes the downtown Village and Barrio areas. It is generally the most politically active quadrant of the city and has seen numerous candidates for appointments and recent council elections.
With the official filing period still six months away, three people have filed documents with the city clerk’s office to indicate they will be District 1 candidates. However, one of those, Monica Merrill, has since then terminated her campaign committee, according to her campaign treasurer.
The two people who apparently still intend to be candidates are Tracy Carmichael, a former two-term Carlsbad Unified School District board member who’s run for the City Council before; and Wesley Oksanen, a small business owner.
Carlsbad’s council District 3 also will hold an election, where first-term incumbent Priya Bhat-Patel is running for re-election. Her only known challenger so far is Ray Pearson, a Carlsbad Unified School District board member since 2014.
The city’s third district goes from Palomar Airport Road south to Poinsettia Lane along the coast and goes east, including areas along Aviara Parkway and Alga Road, to the San Marcos border.
Bhat-Patel announced early in the year that she was considering a run for the state Senate’s 36th District seat held by Patricia Bates. However, in July, Bhat-Patel said on Twitter that she had decided to seek a second term on the City Council instead.
“Given the current situation in Carlsbad, w/the departure of one of our council colleagues & the many issues facing our community, I have decided to suspend my campaign for state Senate to focus more on solutions for our city right now,” she said.
All Carlsbad’s elected positions are part time. The base annual salaries are $25,826 for mayor, $24,626 for council members, and $12,840 each for city clerk and city treasurer, according to the city website.
Elected officials also get an allowance for cars and cell phones, along with insurance and other benefits.