Interview with Tracy Martinez, Distinguished Mayor of Del Mar

Tracy, tell us a little about yourself.

Where are you from?
“I grew up in California in the Redondo Beach Torrance area and moved down here to the San Diego area about 20 years ago and fell in love with it. I’ve lived in Del Mar for about 12 years.’

How did you become the Mayor of Del Mar?
“Well, I had some leadership roles in my profession, but being a politician is very different. I came to this beautiful city to attend an event at the fairgrounds. I was living in North County still, and I drove here and thought, “I really want to live here one day.” I just thought it was such a beautiful place, being near the ocean and then having gorgeous Torrey Pines, and it’s really this beautiful mix of nature, greenery, and ocean. Anyway, I said to my husband, “I want to move here and be the Mayor of this town one day.” I don’t even know why I said that. But look, here I am. So as I got settled in the area and got to know it, I realized that my nature is to get involved. So I started working on committees–I was on the Traffic and Parking Committee, on the Affordable Housing Committee, and one of the council members reached out to me and said, “Have you ever thought about running for City Council?” And I’m like, “Well, I mean, I’ve thought about it, but I just don’t know if it’s possible.” He gave me a lot of pep talk and support. Now, mind you, this was during COVID, so I pulled out my papers, got enough signatures to be officially a candidate. I had to have my husband’s buy-in because it does change your priorities in your home life, and then I started the campaign. During COVID, it was difficult, and about halfway through, I thought, “You know, we’re all wearing masks. We’re all kind of isolated. But I’m going to people’s doors.” So I knocked on their doors, stepped way back wearing a mask, and really got myself out there. And that’s where I learned two things. One is, if you want to learn more about your community, talk to the residents. And two, becoming human to them really helped me.

And I came in first, so I got the most votes, and that put me in the queue to become Mayor. There’s a big learning curve for sure, but I have great colleagues on the council. People often ask me, “Do you like it?” And I say, “I love it. It’s more work than I anticipated, and I knew it would be a lot of work, but I like it even more than I thought I would.” So those are two really positive things.

Del Mar is world-known for the huge events during the year. Tell us what’s coming for The County Fair, Del Mar Racing Season?. So, summer is here, and the next thing we’ll be looking forward to is our fair. The fairgrounds is having a fair, and the title is called “Get Out There.” I just got briefed on it yesterday, and it will be a spectacular event. We’re going to have some big names in concerts. The whole garden area will be back to normal as it went away last year. It wasn’t a big deal, and then previously they were closed during COVID, so all the rides, all the foods, all those things people love. They’re doing things a little bit differently by pre-selling tickets so the flow will be a little bit easier for people, and they’re limited up to 60,000. So people need to go online and buy those tickets ahead of time. It will start on the 7th of June, and then it ends with the big celebration.’”

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