EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on Oceanside district elections, please see video at the end of the article.
OCEANSIDE — In a crowded field, only two can survive. For the first time, Oceanside residents will engage in district elections on Nov. 6.
In District 1 two incumbents — longtime Councilwoman Esther Sanchez and Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery — are running against each other, along with Susan Custer and Michael Odegaard. In District 2, the candidates are former Mayor and Councilman Terry Johnson, Dana Corso, Kristopher Kagan, Lawrence Kornit and Christopher Rodriguez.
The biggest issue, which is also on the ballot, is Measure Y. If passed with a yes vote, it would restrict rezoning open space and agricultural land use. Specifically, it is targeted to stop a large-scale development in south Morro Hills.
Corso, who is supported by musician and Oceanside resident/farmer Jason Mraz, said the previous City Council’s action on the measure are inexcusable. While she is not against development, Corso said it must be done responsibly and if the Yes on Y camp wins, it will not hurt farming.
During a recent candidate forum, the candidates spoke about a number of other issues including homelessness, the city’s finances, business and job development, among others.
As for Sanchez and Lowery, the two incumbents are battling through the crowded field in District 1. Sanchez is criticizing Lowery and the council for potentially using eminent domain in Jefferies Ranch near the proposed New River Farms development.
Lowery, though, touts his accomplishments, such as passing a puppy mill ban and single-use plastic bag ban as a method of connecting with voters.
Rodriguez said the General Plan is a priority and must be updated. The document has not been updated for decades, and Rodriguez says this is one reason why the city is falling behind with a balance of development.
When it comes to job creation, Kagan said he believes the City Council must be creative and start targeting tech companies startups and other innovative industries where rapid job growth is a characteristic. Odegaard, meanwhile, stressed the importance of empowering neighborhood associations on zoning issues
As for homelessness, the City Council recently voted to declare a crisis. Custer said ongoing partnerships with service providers must continue, Johnson said it’s the No. 1 issue this cycle.
The former mayor said new policy must be created, noting the problem has become intensified near the airport with encampments.
Kornic, meanwhile, said there is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and said more transitional housing is needed and more proactive work with neighboring entities must continue to build and find solutions.
Odegaard has positioned himself as a community representative working to ensure public access to parks, more engagement with neighborhoods and protecting the city from overdevelopment.
For more information on Oceanside district elections, please see video below: