OCEANSIDE — City Council appointed Ryan Keim, a former Oceanside police officer, to fill the empty fifth council seat at its Jan. 9 meeting.
Originally re-elected to a four-year term in 2016, Councilwoman Esther Sanchez left the seat vacant after she decided to run for and subsequently won the city’s new District 1 council seat. Keim will finish out the term, which is due to end in 2020.
City Council voted 3-1 to expedite selecting someone to fill the empty seat during its Dec. 19, 2018 meeting.
It had a choice to either appoint a successor to fill the vacancy or accept applications to fill the vacancy by the Feb. 6 regular council meeting, or call for a special election on Nov. 5. Sanchez, the only member who voted against the expedited process, had wanted to wait until later in January to decide the appointee.
“I really would have liked a better process,” she said at the Jan. 9 meeting, noting the faster route the rest of council chose made the process seem “more secretive.”
Councilman Christopher Rodriguez said he would have preferred a special election under different circumstances.
Council members have spent the last few weeks interviewing multiple candidates who applied to be considered for the position.
Sanchez said she asked questions that probed candidates on how active they have been in the community, how long they have lived in Oceanside, why they want to serve as council members and if they have any potential conflicts of interest.
Both Mayor Peter Weiss and Deputy Mayor Jack Feller said they interviewed more than 20 people each.
“I think we did a very fair process trying to understand what each person is about,” Feller said.
Each council member named their top five candidates for the position — with the exception of Sanchez, who only provided four.
While some candidates were included in three of the four council members’ lists, such as former Councilman Jerry Kern, Keim was the only candidate whose name appeared in all four.
The top concern for Feller was making sure the appointee knew the importance of the city’s development. For him, Keim checked out.
“I think we would be well-served to have him in here,” Feller said of Keim.
Keim is a former police officer with the city of Oceanside, serving as the department’s information officer. Almost 30 people applied to be considered for the appointment. He was sworn into the council seat at the end of the Jan. 9 meeting.
Council also declared the elected, part-time city clerk position vacant effective Dec. 31, 2018. Former City Clerk Zack Beck resigned to accept an appointment to full-time city clerk in Escondido.
Council must either appoint a successor to fill the city clerk vacancy by Feb. 27, or call for a special election on Nov. 5. Applications for the position are due by Jan. 23, and a workshop to interview candidates will be held Feb. 20.
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son