OCEANSIDE — For the last several months, candidates vying for the title of mayor have been building their campaigns to win over residents by November’s election.
As of the beginning of the new year, there are seven mayoral candidates: current Deputy Mayor Jack Feller, current Councilwoman Esther Sanchez, former Councilman Rocky Chavez, former City Clerk Zack Beck, Ruben Major, Perry Alvarez and Fernando Garcia.
Former Councilman Jerry Kern and Housing Commissioner Michelle Gomez are also listed under the city’s Elections Public Portal as candidates for mayor, but neither are running for the office. Gomez is instead campaigning for the District 4 City Council seat but had previously explored the option of running for mayor.
Kern, on the other hand, is enjoying his retirement after serving on City Council for 12 years.
After dropping out of his race for a California Assembly seat, Kern put $10,000 into a mayoral account with the city, which is why he is listed as a candidate on the portal.
“I’m not seriously considering running at this time,” Kern said.
Kern did note, however, that the number of candidates running for mayor this year is due to the fact that Mayor Peter Weiss is not running. He explained that incumbent candidates usually deter many from running, but without one “it’s basically open season” for the seat.
The Coast News has previously reported on Sanchez’ and Feller’s campaigns for mayor.
Ruben Major, who co-owns and co-operates EMS (Emergency Medical Services) University with his wife, Jennifer Major, recently told The Coast News that he is running to because of the city’s “homelessness crisis.”
“I know we’re not really doing anything to effectively address it,” Major said.
Major noted that while the city does have the Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) to help, the city is mostly just bragging about how many people it’s ticketing for being homeless.
Major said he understands the city has limitations on what it can do, but he also agrees with the 9th Circuit Court’s opinion under Martin v. Boise case that homeless people cannot be punished for sleeping outside on public property in the absence of adequate alternatives.
Major suggested working with nonprofit groups like Interfaith Community Services to acquire grant funding that would help increase the number of sheltered beds for the city’s homeless.
Major also said he is in support of a referendum vote that could potentially overturn construction of the controversial North River Farms project. Major is against the project and also participated as one of the signature gatherers to get the referendum on the November ballot.
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