City Council candidates face off at MCC forum

City Council candidates face off at MCC forum
Oceanside City Council candidates Chuck Lowery, Jerome “Jerry” Kern, Dana Corso and Gary Felien await questions. The candidate’s forum was held at MiraCosta College on Sept. 11. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — City Council incumbents Jerome “Jerry” Kern and Gary Felien, and candidates Chuck Lowery and Dana Corso faced off in the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce forum held at MiraCosta College on Sept. 11.

The forum asked each candidate specific questions on their candidate statement and campaign platform.

The four candidates stayed true to their stated agendas in their responses. Candidate Robert Tran did not participate in the forum.

Kern touted being the go-to guy for businesses.

His replies to most questions were brief, to the point and emphasized economic improvements Oceanside has realized.

Kern defended City Council’s decision to eliminate 130 “redundant” city jobs in order to weather the recession.

“We rightsized the government,” Kern said.

Kern stood by his support of the failed mobile home rent decontrol proposition, saying it is not government’s place to dictate rents, even though voters recognized mobile home owners are essentially at the will of park owners without rent control.

He also pushed for completion of the Melrose Drive extension to fulfill the city circulation plan.

Felien spoke about keeping a tight lid on city salaries and pensions.

He supported going forward with the Rancho del Oro interchange. He said it has been opposed by NIMBYs and is beneficial to the city.

Felien also voiced support for the city charter, which initially saved the city money by not requiring city development projects to pay prevailing wage.

He said he stands by the charter even though the provision to pay below prevailing wage is under litigation, and may forfiet all state funding.

“I’m fighting for taxpayers every step of the way,” Felien said.

Lowery, a former business owner, talked about making City Hall friendlier to small businesses and safeguarding water resources.

He said the proposed design of the Gregory Canyon Landfill that will sit on top of the San Luis Rey River is an infrastructure nightmare, and landfill leaks into the waterway are expected.

“We should stay away from high-intensity infrastructure projects that are not going to work,” Lowery said.

He also spoke about City Council working with city emergency services to aid services in cutting down response times, and not acting like a dictatorship.

Corso spoke about community needs being ignored, and suggested that committees be reinstated to ensure residents are heard.

“There are many, many issues out there that the City Council majority ignored,” Corso said.

Corso said Kern and Felien challenged mobile home rent control despite community outcry, and called the defeated proposition for rent decontrol a waste of taxpayer funds.

She added the cost of putting the proposition on the ballot limited the city’s ability to address pressing issues, such as gang reduction.

Corso also voiced opposition to the city charter and the heavy hand it allows City Council members.

Candidates agreed on not outsourcing city safety services, and satisfaction with the job performance of the city manager.

Following the forum Kern and Felien said they would have liked to have the opportunity to rebut fellow candidates.

The forum did not include debates following candidates’ replies, but candidates did weave rebuttal statements into their responses.

The Oceanside Chamber of Commerce also held an Oceanside Unified School District candidate forum at MiraCosta College earlier that evening.

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