North County Report: More Changes Coming to Oceanside Leadership in 2021

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North County Report: More Changes Coming to Oceanside Leadership in 2021

City leaders are set to tap a new Council member (or call a special election) and a new police chief in 2021.

Oceanside City Hall / Photo by Megan Wood

Following new appointments to the Oceanside City Council this month, further changes in city leadership will come next year. After Oceanside swore in Esther Sanchez as mayor last week, Oceanside City Council declared the seat she previously held on the City Council vacant and directed the city clerk’s office to accept applications to fill the spot.

The person who fills that seat will make important city decisions on what can be built where, homelessness and whether police have too much power and too little accountability.

District 1 residents interested in the position can submit applications to the city clerk’s office by Jan. 8. By Tuesday, four people had applied seat: Marisa DeLuca, Eric Anderson, Laird Stabler and Chelsea Gutmann, Oceanside city clerk Zeb Navarro told Voice of San Diego.

The City Council will hold interviews for the seat on Jan. 27 at a special workshop and can decide to appoint a Council member then or move the decision to the next regularly scheduled Council meeting. If no appointment is made by Feb. 21, the Council must call for a special election. In that case, a special election would be held in November 2021, Navarro said.

Oceanside is also still looking for a new top cop. Police Chief Frank McCoy, who announced his retirement in July, will officially step down on Dec. 28.

City manager Deanna Lorson extended the timeline on her search for a new chief after Oceanside community leaders pushed for the department expand its search for a new police chief to external candidate following concerns that the department leadership lacks diversity and community survey results shed light on those continuing tensions.

On Monday, Lorson announced that Oceanside Police Captain Fred Armijo, an Oceanside native who has worked for the department since 1994, will hold the role of interim chief while the city conducts its search.

Armijo has directed each of the department’s three divisions of the department — support operations, investigations and patrol. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Oceanside Promise, a community partnership that helps local children, and is a member of the North San Diego County NAACP, according to a city press release.

“I’m fully confident in Captain Armijo’s ability to lead the department professionally and with the utmost integrity, transparency and commitment through this time of transition,” Lorson wrote in the release.

The recruitment process for the new chief will close on Jan. 22.

What We’re Working on

  • Facing pressure from parents, some North County schools are trying to open or stay open for in-person learning, but they’re facing a backlash from teachers unions and crippling staff shortages. I wrote about how conflicting demands from parents and teachers are straining some school districts.
  • In a new story, VOSD reporter Jesse Marx explained why complaints against the Sheriff’s Department are exponentially surging. The department says a change in reporting practices is behind the shift.

In Other News

  • Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that the state is activating the 202-bed federal medical station at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido as coronavirus cases surge. (Union-Tribune)
  • Financial troubles for many entities – schools, cities, restaurants and even the Del Mar Fairgrounds – continue to grow as economic impacts of the coronavirus rage across the region. San Marcus Unified School District projected a nearly $30 million budget deficit at its December board meeting. Del Mar Fairgrounds officials canceled all entertainment contracts for 2021 in the last two weeks. (Coast News, Union-Tribune)
  • The state’s newest regional stay-at-home order prohibits in-person dining in restaurants, but restaurant owners in Carlsbad Village like Oak + Elixir Wine Beer Eatery and others protested that order and are seating customers in-person to keep their businesses afloat. (NBC 7)
  • North County cities are coming up with ways to help residents and small businesses hit by the pandemic. Encinitas will contribute $75,000 in new grants to affected small businesses. Carlsbad approved an urgent ordinance requiring the city’s largest hotels to keep jobs open for employees who are furloughed or laid off during the pandemic. (Union-Tribune)
  • Data from a new KPBS report shows the highest number of coronavirus outbreaks in November across the region happened in Escondido in the 92029 ZIP code. Most outbreaks regionally have occurred in popular food chains, large retailers and grocery stores and businesses with services.
  • In the latest development in a gruesome case in Carlsbad, a 17-year-old is accused in the stabbing death of Lisa Thorborg on a hiking trail. A police detective testified Tuesday that DNA from the teen suspect was found on the woman’s clothing. (Union-Tribune)
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