OCEANSIDE — Voters will soon decide if city council, mayor, treasurer and city clerk candidates need to win by a 51 percent majority vote.City Council gave the OK to put the majority voter approval amendment on the June 5 ballot in a 3-1 vote Feb. 29. Councilwoman Ester Sanchez voted no, and Mayor Jim Wood was absent.
Supporters of the amendment said that the benefit of having a candidate elected by 51 percent of voters would be truly representing the majority of the voters.
“How can a majority of voters hold an elected official responsible who was not elected by the majority?” Councilman Gary Felien asked.
If the amendment is passed, first round elections will be held in June. If no candidate receives 51 percent of votes, a runoff election will be held between the two top candidates in November.
Another anticipated benefit of majority voter approval is that it will most likely cut down on the number of candidates running. Past elections have sometimes had over a dozen initial candidates.
“We need the best leaders we can get,” said Brandon Frazier, an Oceanside resident.
“The current system provides a lot of squabbling and lot of manipulation of the system.”
In addition to requiring candidates to win by a majority, the amendment asks city council candidates to name the at-large seat they are running to win. Two city council seats are up for election every two years.
City council, mayor, treasurer, and city clerk terms last for four years.
Some residents objected to the lack of analysis and input the proposed city charter amendment had that was bought forward by Felien. It was first discussed at a workshop two weeks ago and OK’d to be put on the ballot after two special meetings.
“This is serious business and needs to be reviewed,” Joan Brubaker, Oceanside resident, said.
“There are three areas in the amendment where the language is problematic,” Diane Nygaard, Oceanside resident, said. “Why not wait to the 2014 elections and make sure it’s correct.”
The rush to put the amendment on the June ballot caused concern for many.
“This is not a citizens’ amendment,” Sanchez said. “This is Councilmember Felien doing this with very little input. The majority that spoke today, 2-to-1, said don’t do this.”
Others supported the amendment. They pointed out that few candidates have won by a 51 percent majority vote and said the amendment would give City Council more cohesion.
“All voters will have a chance to improve the fair parliamentary election,” Lloyd Prosser, former city council candidate and resident of Oceanside, said. “I don’t want to wait until 2014 to have the decision made.”
If approved the amendment will go into effect in June 2014. In June and November 2014 voters will decide on the council seats presently occupied by Councilmen Jerry Kern and Gary Felien.
There was also brief discussion on forming a Charter Review Committee. City staff was asked to come back with committee models for further discussion.