OCEANSIDE — The city’s first district election has left one City Council seat empty and the other members trying to fill it by Jan. 9.
Last year, Oceanside City Council adopted an ordinance that established by-district elections for City Council offices. The city has split itself into four separate districts, and each council member is required to live in their respective district to be elected.
Previously, council members were elected “at-large,” meaning that they could live anywhere in the city and still be elected. Now, with Districts 1 and 2 phased in and Districts 3 and 4 to come in 2020, council members whose four-year terms have expired must live within the boundaries of those remaining two districts in order to run and be elected back onto council.
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez bumped former Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery out for the District 1 seat, and brand-new Councilman Christopher Rodriguez won District 2. The vacancy would be the remainder of Sanchez’s at-large, four-year term to which she was re-elected in 2016.
Former Councilman Jerry Kern wrapped up his third four-year term on City Council this year. This year he ran in the jungle primary for a seat on the County Board of Supervisors, which he lost.
During its Dec. 19 meeting, council declared the seat vacant and discussed its options on how to fill it: either appoint a successor to fill the vacancy or accept applications to fill the vacancy by the Feb. 6, 2019, regular council meeting, or call for a special election on Nov. 5, 2019.
Council voted 3-1 to interview candidates by Jan. 8 and to appoint someone to the seat by its next regular meeting on Jan. 9.
Mayor Peter Weiss told council he had been approached by 12 people interested in the position. Councilmen Jack Feller and Rodriguez had also been in contact with people who are interested in the role.
“I think it behooves us to meet with these people individually and come prepared the next meeting to make a decision,” Weiss said.
Both Rodriguez and Feller agreed to make the decision as soon as possible.
Sanchez, who voted against the expedited Jan. 9 date, asked the other members to wait until later in January to decide the appointee to the vacant seat, explaining that it was an important decision that needed time for consideration. She also noted she had planned on taking time off for the holiday season at the end of the December, and that interviewing candidates to make a decision by Jan. 9 would cut into that time off.
The elected, part-time role of city clerk also will be vacant soon as Zack Beck will resign effective Dec. 31 to accept an appointment to full-time city clerk in Escondido. Council is expected to discuss how to fill the city clerk position at its Jan. 9 meeting as well.
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