Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus. Courtesy images

After two years as Chair of the San Diego Association of Governments’ Board of Directors, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus presided over his last meeting Friday and passed the gavel to Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear.

Vaus joined the SANDAG Board of Directors in January 2015 and was elected to serve as Chair of the Board in December 2018.

During his two-year term as chair, Vaus led SANDAG through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It has been an honor to lead this agency and sit at the head of the SANDAG dais with the mayors, city councilmembers, and county supervisors elected by residents of this county,” Vaus said. “The decisions we make when we take off our local hats and put on our regional hats impact this region for generations to come.”

During the last two years, Blakespear and Vaus worked together on a number of issues, including San Diego Forward: The 2021 Regional Plan, the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, and airport connectivity.

“My term as chair has not been at all what I expected. I don’t think life for any of us has been what we expected, particularly in the last year,” Vaus said. “It hasn’t been dull — sometimes it was like an elegant dance on this board, other times it was like mud wrestling — but we got a lot done.”

He said he was leaving the gavel in good hands with Blakespear.

Vaus took the lead in advancing the development of the future third border crossing with Mexico at Otay Mesa East. He traveled to Washington, D.C. in 2019 to meet with officials from the State Department and Mexican Embassy about the project. Vaus also traveled to Mexico City, meeting with officials from Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Relations and Ministry of Communications and Transportation.

In January, under Vaus’ leadership, SANDAG established a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Navy to revitalize the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command site in San Diego’s Midway District. Over the last year, SANDAG has also advanced critical efforts to stabilize the Del Mar Bluffs. Construction on Phase 4 will wrap up at the end of the year, and planning efforts for phases 5 and 6 are underway.

SANDAG under Vaus’ leadership has also continued work on the 2021 Regional Plan, which will be presented to the board in the fall of 2021.

Vaus was elected Mayor of Poway in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. Prior to being the city’s mayor, he served as a member of the Poway City Council.

Vaus owns and operates a production company in Poway.

— City News Service