OCEANSIDE — City Council incumbents Jack Feller and Esther Sanchez each share their platform for third term reelection. Councilman Jack Feller was first elected to office in December 2000. He initially ran for office after serving the city as a volunteer for 13 years and running an Oceanside restaurant for six years.
He later sold his restaurant in 2004.
Feller is not an Oceanside native, but has made Oceanside home for himself, his wife, children and 17 grandchildren.
He said his family is what inspires him to run for reelection. He added that he would continue to work to build a city with a bright future for his grandchildren and future generations.
“I see the need to provide everything they need to stay in this town and afford to live here,” Feller said. “The most important thing is to keep this small town feel and allow progress to make this the best place to live, work, worship and play.”
He added that his vision of a viable city does not include providing city funded social services.
“I don’t believe the city should be proving social services,” Feller said. “Churches can help make a difference with the social needs of the community.”
Feller said his vision for Oceanside is a business friendly city with a balance of transportation corridors and walkable business districts. He added that the city is too big to be one walkable community.
“Commercial areas should have walkability,” Feller said. “There are also three freeways running through our city. We need to keep people moving.”
“We need to get out of the way of progress,” he added. “This is not Mayberry any more. It can feel the same and still make progress.”
Another area where Feller said progress is needed is for Oceanside to become more business friendly. He suggests that the city provide incentives for businesses to open. He pointed to the success of negotiations with Idec Pharmaceuticals.
“We just need to get in the mindset that council is willing to incentavize,” Feller said. “Entrepreneurs have pretty good ideas. We need to ask them how can we help you do this?”
Feller said the city’s biggest issues remain costly city worker pensions and benefit programs. He added that recent contract agreements are moving the city in the right direction, but further budget reform is needed.
“I also know we didn’t get into this mess overnight,” Feller said. “It happened gradually over the last 25 years. I’m in a position to try to make a difference with each and every decision to move this city forward to be financially sound.”
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez has deep roots in Oceanside. She was born and attended school in Oceanside before earning a law degree and then returning to Oceanside to live and work as a Deputy Public Defender.
She stopped work as a Deputy Public Defender four years ago.
Sanchez said the previous high crime rates and former City Council “give away” to businesses policies incited her to run and be elected in December 2000.
“The crime rate was tremendous,” Sanchez said. “Police officers were paid the lowest in the county. We were training them and then they were leaving. The Manchester project tore the city in half. I knew I could do a better job.”
“I wanted to make a difference,” Sanchez added. “I grew up here.”
This election Sanchez said she is focusing on smart growth and economic development.
She said she will not compromise on ensuring residents have a high quality of life which includes city libraries, pools and parks and making Oceanside a pedestrian friendly, bicycle friendly city.
Sanchez said she opposes spending city funds on development plans for roadways that will likely never be built. She said proposed roadways were OK’d by the council majority of Councilmen Jerry Kern, Gary Felien and Feller to open the door for denser development. She stated that she is against any tax bill to fund constructing the roadways.
“We’re spending a lot of money now on road projects that will never be built,” Sanchez said. “It’s a stress to residents. It’s a huge tax bill we’re looking at and property values are all going to go down.”
She added that she is also not in favor of rezoning agricultural areas or parkland to change them into residential and commercial zones.
Sanchez said she sees more favorable ways Oceanside can be developed.
“There is another dream out there,” Sanchez said. “What has kept us economically viable is a mixed economy. We need a balance. Making park space commercial doesn’t make sense.”
She said positive economic development ideas for agricultural areas include agri-tourism and wineries.
She added that Caltrans funds are available because of I-5 widening and can be secured to develop lagoon eco-tourism.
Sanchez said she sees her vision in contrast to current special interest policies of the present council majority of Kern, Felien and Feller.
“The are going to destroy Oceanside,” Sanchez said. “I can’t let that happen. I will not let that happen.”