OCEANSIDE — Since the passing of City Treasurer Gary Ernst, Councilman Jerry Kern has been outspoken in asking city voters to continue to support the deceased treasurer over challenger Nadine Scott in November.
Kern sent an email to his contact list of 500 residents to rally support for Ernst, and said he is considering taking to social media as well.
“I will do everything I can, even though he passed away he is better qualified,” Kern said.
“The bottom line is qualifications — she doesn’t have them.”
Ernst’s name will remain on the ballot due to the close timing of his death to the Nov. 8 election. If he wins, City Council could hold public interviews and appoint a replacement. Another option would be to hold a special election and open the position to candidates.
In either case, Scott would have another opportunity to win the seat if she fails to gain the majority of votes in November.
Kern and other council members have said Scott, who is an attorney and community activist, is under-qualified to take charge of the city’s $300 million plus portfolio, which Ernst doubled from $150 million.
Councilman Jack Feller said he has already stated at an election forum last month that he would not vote for Scott.
“I think she’s not qualified to be treasurer, it’s that simple,” Feller said.
Feller said a council appointment or special election would be fair in the event Ernst won the seat.
He added Ernst was appointed to his first term in office when former City Treasurer Gary Felien was elected to the City Council in 2010.
At that time the city also considered changing the elected position of city treasurer to an appointment by the city manager, but did not take action.
Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery said if the situation arises that Ernst wins, he is in favor of a City Council appointment over a $300,000 special election. For him it’s a matter of principles over politics.
“Any council member who immediately opposes the appointment of a highly qualified candidate is (also) willing to burn taxpayer dollars making a personal political statement,” Lowery said. “What a waste that would be.”
Scott continues to run an active campaign for city treasurer. Among her promises to voters are to make safe and careful investments and improve accountability and transparency.
Scott brings the experience of working as a government and public sector attorney, self investor and county Resource Conservation District treasurer. Scott said she can apply her experience and skills to the job of city treasurer on day one.
“I have all the skills and am ready to go,” Scott said. “I hope voters realize how qualified I am. I am confident when they cast a vote for me I’ll do the job and do it well.”
Scott’s and Ernst’s names will be on the November ballot.