OCEANSIDE — The Oct. 15 City Council meeting opened with a request from Councilman Jerry Kern, and a second from Councilwoman Esther Sanchez, to postpone resident recognitions until after November elections.
Military veteran Chuck Atkinson, businessman and volunteer Chuck Lowery, and Alliance to Improve Oceanside Neighborhoods president Dana Corso were on the agenda to be recognized.
Following the meeting Kern said he felt the timing was inappropriate to recognize Lowery and Corso who are also running for City Council seats.
“The last council meeting before elections, Dana Corso and Chuck Lowery, really?” Kern said. “It was a political stunt that I don’t think would have gone well.”
Kern said he also asked for a postponement in recognizing Atkinson, who he nominated, in order not to have his request distract from Atkinson’s accomplishments.
“I asked to take it off the agenda because I didn’t want them to use veterans as a political football,” Kern said. “I told Chuck (Atkinson) not to come. Chuck doesn’t deserve that.”
Mayor Jim Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez nominated Lowery and Corso respectively, a week before the meeting. The nominations were included as addendums.
Lowery said he was honored to accept the award that recognized him as a business owner and volunteer. He said he initially planned to use the opportunity to bring attention to the Oceanside Charitable Foundation, Tariq Khamisa Foundation, and TERI’s Arts Advisory Committee, which he serves as a volunteer.
“The mayor has been really good about recognizing community groups in place that have gone above and beyond what regular residents do,” Lowery said. “It gives us a base of awareness in the community.”
Prior to the meeting Lowery got word that objections to the timing of his recognition were raised, and he requested his recognition be postponed.
“I don’t want it to look like a campaign thing,” Lowery said. “Being recognized now or in December is not critical to me. I’ll still do what I’m doing.”
Lowery said there was also friction among city council members about the timing of Kern’s nomination coinciding with the final meeting before elections, and sentiments it was politically motivated.
Both Lowery and Atkinson invited fellow volunteers to attend the meeting, and then cancelled plans.
“We don’t want to have a city council that fights about everything they do,” Lowery said.
The meeting concluded with 40 plus speakers sharing their thoughts on issues off the agenda, including comments on city council candidates.
Tensions mounted, and a speaker’s comments about a city council candidate incited outbursts and shouting from council members. A five-minute break was called, Wood and Kern apologized to speakers for council outbursts, and public comments continued.