North County Report: Next Oceanside Mayor May Not Have Much Support

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North County Report: Next Oceanside Mayor May Not Have Much Support

A county supervisor emerges as a coronavirus skeptic, parents opt for alternatives to distance learning and more in our biweekly roundup of North County news.

Oceanside City Hall
Oceanside City Hall / Photo by Jimmy James

Oceanside doesn’t have a primary election system and doesn’t have rules requiring any one of its dozen candidates running for mayor in November to obtain a majority of the vote. That means the next mayor could be someone who seizes a relatively small percentage of the vote, so long as it’s a plurality.

Over the past few weeks, as I learned more about the electoral process in Oceanside and interviewed some of the mayoral candidates, I’ve wondered whether this has always been the case. Short answer: sorta.

Oceanside’s “winner take all” electoral process has been around for decades. From 1888 to 1968, the mayor was a rotating position among the City Council members. Then in 1968, the city began to elect a mayor as its own position, Oceanside City Clerk Zeb Navarro told me.

In 2012, Oceanside considered a ballot measure that would create a primary system. It failed with 16,600 of voters opposed and 12,546 in favor, Navarro said. Proposition F would have established in the city charter a primary with a November run-off election if no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote. It would have also established a primary and run-off election for special elections to fill a vacancy or for a recall election and at-large numbered seats as well, Navarro said.

In a commentary for the Union-Tribune in May 2012, former Oceanside Unified School District Superintendent Ken Noonan and Lani Lutar, president of the public affairs firm Responsible Solutions, urged voters to vote yes on Proposition F. They wrote that while the current process works when there are only two candidates, “it’s a problem when there are many, as is almost always the case in Oceanside elections. As a result of this process, candidates can win with only a small minority of support throughout the city — often around 20 or 30 percent.” The risk, they argued, was that an elected official would only be responsive to that same small group of interests, once in office.

For now, there aren’t any measures on the upcoming ballot to change how the mayor of Oceanside is elected. That said, Oceanside is in the process of transitioning from at-large elections to district seats that represent particular neighborhoods.

What We’re Working On

  • Since May, County Supervisor Jim Desmond has positioned himself as the most high-profile skeptic of the coronavirus to hold local office. He’s primarily given voice on his podcast to people who believe the dangers of COVID-19 are exaggerated, particularly in schools, VOSD contributor Katy Stegall reports.

In Other News

  • Activists and others pushing for police reform, including Campaign Zero, are questioning whether the Carlsbad Police Department has enacted all “8 Can’t Wait” policies, a slate of policy recommendations from a national organization whose stated goal is reducing police violence. The police department says it has. (Union-Tribune)
  • Student enrollment has decreased in San Marcos Unified Elementary School District and Encinitas Union Elementary School District while some parents opt for alternatives to distance learning amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Coast News)
  • San Diego fairgrounds  CEO Tim Fennell has retired after 27 years following a recent financial downturn. The fairgrounds has suffered from cancellations of major events due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Union-Tribune)
  • Solana Beach approved an agreement last week with Encinitas and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the pre-construction engineering and design of the Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project, which is supposed to strengthen beaches in those cities with sand delivered at five- and 10-year intervals for 50 years. (Union-Tribune)
  • A Superior County judge dismissed a lawsuit brought  by the developer Integral Properties against Oceanside residents trying to stop the construction of the North River Farms development project in South Morro Hills. (Union-Tribune)
  • The Union-Tribune featured small business owners in Vista who are facing significant economic challenges. The city has launched a recovery plan to help small businesses like Metaphor Boutique, Belching Beaver Brewery and The Tavern and Grill.
  • And finally, Desmond and mayors of Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista urged Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow more businesses to open. Desmond said Legoland, as with any other business, should be allowed to reopen as long as the proper health and safety protocols are followed. (Coast News)
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