OCEANSIDE — The Dec. 8 election to recall Councilman Jerry Kern failed with a 63 percent no vote. The results from the mail-in ballots posted right after the polls closed at 8 p.m. showed that number remained steady through the final count of all 60 precincts.
City Council chambers was “election central” with vote counting machines on sight and precinct updates posted online every 15 minutes and displayed on a big screen. It took approximately two dozen San Diego County Registrar of Voters workers, 177 poll workers, and eight volunteer ballot counting machine operators to process ballots on site. The process allowed voters to observe the ballot count firsthand.
Final results of the recall vote showed 14,803 no votes and 8,511 yes votes. City Treasurer Gary Felien noted that the total yes votes were fewer than the 11,000 residents who signed the petition to hold the recall election.
“People understood what the whole issue was about,” Kern said. “It wasn’t about me. My thanks to the Oceanside voters who recognized this recall for what it was — a public employee union power grab — and rejected it decisively. We need to move forward now and get this behind us and do the business of the city. I think the voters have decided the council is a pretty good team.”
Votes for candidates to fill Kern’s seat should the recall pass were tallied even though the no vote made it unnecessary. Charles “Chuck” Lowery received 60.45 percent of the votes, Rex Martin 28.28 percent, and Rick Kratcoski 11.27 percent.
Lowery said he is pleased he gained the majority of the votes. “I campaigned for five months and won,” Lowery said.
With the recall nixed, the next question for council is how to fill the seat of Councilman Rocky Chavez, who is expected to resign from council this month, due to his assignment as undersecretary for California Department of Veterans Affairs. Council can appoint someone to fill the seat or call for a $40,000 special election to be held in June.
Lowery said he will not run in a June special election. “To campaign in January, February, March, April, May, for an election in June that’s only going to be a six-month seat and than having to start campaigning again in July doesn’t make sense,” Lowery said. “I intend to run next year, 100 percent guaranteed.”
Many say it will be difficult for the four-member council of Mayor Jim Wood, Councilwoman Esther Sanchez, and Councilmen Jack Feller and Kern to reach an agreement on who to appoint.
Feller and Kern said they would like to appoint someone who is fiscally prudent. “We need to find a fiscal conservative that knows how to watch the city budget,” Kern said. Feller said he does not feel Sanchez will support a candidate nominated by Kern or by him.
If an appointment is not made, the council will consist of four members until an election is held. Some feel if that happens the four council members will get stuck in a 2-2 voting pattern on issues for six months, with Wood and Sanchez voting against Kern and Feller.
A council meeting will be held on Dec. 15 to verify the recall vote.