OCEANSIDE — Incumbent Mayor Jim Wood and mayoral candidate Councilman Jerry Kern have started their race for mayor. Wood held a campaign kickoff and ice cream social at Heritage Park earlier this month. Kern opened his campaign office following the Freedom Days Parade in July.
Wood is running for his third term as mayor. He was first elected as mayor in 2004. Prior to that was elected to City Council in 2002.
Wood served on the Oceanside Police force for 31 years as a detective.
“I saw the good and bad during those years,” Wood said.
Wood first became politically involved when he served as the chair of the Oceanside Police Officer’s Association.
After his retirement from the Police Department he ran for City Council to give back to the community. He said his goal was to restore the image of Oceanside. As mayor he was successful in lowering the city’s crime rate. He said he enjoys serving the city.
“I put people first,” Wood said. “I put citizens first over outside contractors and developers who don’t live in our city and don’t care about out city.”
Wood helped campaign against recent Proposition E that threatened mobile home space rent control and Proposition F, which called for candidates to win by a costly two-election majority vote. Both propositions were defeated in June.
“The seniors and veterans have asked me to stay on and remain as mayor,” Wood said. “They are unhappy with the voting majority as council. I will run one more time to try to help them.”
Wood said he sees the economy as the number one issue for Oceanside and the U.S. He credits Oceanside for “maintaining” through state budget cuts and unfunded mandates.
He said he feels it is the job of the city to provide services that include city parks, swimming pools, senior centers and libraries.
“The council majority thinks cutting services and outsourcing might help the city, I disagree,” Wood said.
He said he is strongly opposed to outsourcing public safety positions.
“I don’t want to cut quality out,” Wood said. “The city’s number one top priority is public safety. Endangering public safety is a problem.”
Wood said some sound ideas to help balance the budget have been turned down by the present council majority of Councilmen Kern, Gary Felien and Jack Feller. This includes a no vote on charging for Fire Department repeat inspections and collision responses for out of town insured drivers.
Wood said he sees promising solutions through regional efforts.
He said is currently working with North County mayors and on the SANDAG board of directors to find ways to drop boundaries and work together to improve the economy of North County and Oceanside.
He said is also contacting businesses to persuade them to open in Oceanside. Already approved are 40 major projects that have city support and are awaiting funding.
“We need to get through this and maintain the city,” Wood said.
Kern is running for mayor after serving as councilman since 2006.
He said he first ran for council because he felt the city was going down the wrong path with “give away” contracts to Fire Department and Police Department employees.
Prior to serving as councilman Kern had a varied career working as a property manager, loan officer and teacher.
He and his wife were among the five founders of Pacific View Charter School in Oceanside.
Kern is still a credentialed teacher and is occasionally called on to be a guest speaker in civic classes.
Kern also served as Oceanside Chamber of Commerce president and increased chamber membership to its highest number of members.
He said his motivation to run for mayor is to continue to help the community and help create high paying jobs.
Kern said he would work to bring high technology, high value jobs to Oceanside. He said this would create workers with disposable incomes to support Oceanside museums and arts.
“My vision for Oceanside is to be a place to live, work and recreate,” Kern said. “To do it all here.”
He said he is also a strong supporter of low volume, high value manufacturing. He added that Oceanside currently has the building spaces for manufacturing businesses to move in.
Kern said solutions could be found by thinking regionally. He stressed that area services should not be duplicated.
“We need to look at public private partnerships,” Kern said. “How to provide services at the lowest possible cost and maintain the level of services.”
One example he gave was to outsource street sweeping services, but the idea was turned down by council.
“Who really cares who sweeps the street,” Kern said. “Our core responsibility is to provide services.”
Kern said he is not against outsourcing jobs that do not entail high security or highly specialized skills.
Kern added that it is time to think of a different model to get things done.