Thursday, January 28, 2021

Saying Goodbye and Hello Again to Coronado City Council Members

Councilmember Whitney Benzian says goodbye to City Council with his family. Photo courtesy City of Coronado

Coronado’s year in review and councilmember changes were on the short agenda for the last city council meeting of 2020. City Manager Blair King gave highlights of city council accomplishments during this tumultuous year that has been dominated by the COVID-19 crisis. Many of the items were in response to the pandemic, including giving interest free loans to Coronado tax-producing businesses, allowing businesses to expand outdoors, offering outdoor dining in Spreckels Park, hosting virtual holiday events, and giving away free masks, to name just a few of the items. Highlights also include: overseeing a FY 2020 year-end with a $3.7 million in excess of General Fund revenue over expenditures and the Pension Stabilization 115 Trust Fund with a balance of over $10 million. The city also received a host of awards for financial reporting, and a variety of projects. The city continues to develop Climate Action and Sea Level Rise Plans. Numerous hours have been spent by the city responding to SANDAG’s RHNA 1000+ new home allocation, the Airport Land Use Plan, and the Port Master Plan Update Draft. The city has also been busy negotiating with Caltrans to take over State Route 75, approving the Coastal Campus sewer line and an Ocean Boulevard sidewalk design, as well as ongoing efforts to underground utilities throughout the city. King commented “We believe in teamwork. It yields better results as shown as we reflect on this year’s accomplishments.” Mayor Bailey added, “Thank you to city staff for executing these items.”

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Mayor Richard Bailey is sworn in by City Clerk Jennifer Ekblad. Photo courtesy City of Coronado

Council unanimously voted to accept the election certification as presented by City Clerk Jennifer Ekblad with Mayor Richard Bailey receiving 7,239 votes, former mayor and Councilmember Casey Tanaka getting 6,577 votes and Councilmember Mike Donovan receiving 4,070 votes to secure their wins.

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Next was the emotional farewell for Councilmember Whitney Benzian as Mayor Bailey declared December 15 “Whitney Benzian Day” and recognized the many issues he spearheaded during his four-year tenure on the council. Councilmember Benzian thanked his family, who was in the audience, and the citizens for this “fascinating journey, with never a dull moment.” He recognized King and city staff for their outstanding work in keeping Coronado on track, and said he felt a close connection with his fellow councilmembers. He commented, “It was a privilege to serve the residents in my hometown. I will never forget this experience.” Mayor Bailey also presented him with a key to the city, original artwork, and proclamations from Supervisor Greg Cox, Senator Toni Atkins, and Congressman Scott Peters. He concluded by saying “Whitney is a strategic guy who kept us all on track.”

City Clerk Jennifer Ekblad swears in Mike Donovan for another term as a city council member. Photo courtesy City of Coronado

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Next, Ekblad administered the Oath of Office to Mayor Bailey, who said he was honored to serve Coronado on both big issues and local issues. Councilmember Donovan and former mayor and Councilmember Casey Tanaka were the next to be sworn in. Donovan reminisced that he took an oath 50 years previously when he entered an all-boys school and has taken oaths for various jobs and each time is inspiring. He thanked his wife and family for their support and the residents who put their trust in him again. He encouraged residents to contact him and is “committed to work as hard as I can to keep Coronado the best place to live.”

Former Mayor Casey Tanaka is sworn in as a Councilmember by City Clerk Jennifer Ekblad. Photo courtesy City of Coronado

As former Mayor of Coronado, from 2008 through 2016, Casey Tanaka is no stranger to the city council. He said, “I am grateful that the voters put their trust in me again.” He looks forward to working with city staff again and will try to always understand all points of view on issues. He ended on a jovial note as he thanked his parents for raising him right and putting his election sign in their yard.

Grace and Jack Elardo shared the “Host a Hero” program on a video call during the City Council meeting.

During Oral Communications via video, Jack and Grace Elardo shared the collaboration between the Kids Who Care and the Old Goats who help Coronado’s Wounded Warriors and how the holiday program looks different this year due to the pandemic. They are promoting “Host a Hero,” which matches hosts who offer to sponsor a holiday dinner with a deserving recipient. The two pointed out that this is a win-win for the restaurants in the community and the heroes who are receiving these meals. Participating restaurants include: Bistro d’Asia, Blue Bridge Hospitality restaurants, the Brigantine, Costa Azul, Miguel’s and Island Pasta. So far, 55 dinners have been donated. To offer to host a hero, contact Ben Hallowell at or call 619-405-5507.

Next to comment was former Councilmember Carrie Downey who advocated for revisiting the issue of action vs summary City Council meeting minutes. She suggested adopting a hybrid version and creating a video meeting retention policy.


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Jennifer Velez
Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: