OCEANSIDE — The necessary 11,000 signatures have been verified and a special election to recall Councilman Jerry Kern is set for Dec. 8. The date was approved in a 4-1 vote by City Council on Aug. 13, after considering the soonest Tuesday the city could process paperwork to hold the recall vote and election of a candidate if the recall prevails. Councilman Jack Feller voted no.
Dozens of residents spoke out on the recall. City Treasurer Gary Felien took the podium to oppose the recall. Felien said public employees unions, who donated heavily to the recall campaign, want to oust Kern and shift the council majority vote to their favor.
“The union members want to buy both sides of the negotiating table,” Felien said. “It will bankrupt the city. There will be no money left for anything.”
Others against the recall election said Kern has stayed true to his campaign views, the $483,000 election is too costly, and reiterated that the “real reason” for the special recall election is a power grab by public employee unions.
A group of residents who oppose the recall election formed the organization Citizens Against the Recall Election, or CARE.
“(In the) last election incumbents were re-elected,” David Shore, a CARE member, said. “That says Oceanside is on track and most people are satisfied with the council. There is an increase in the police force, crime is down, things are going OK.”
“The recall is an inappropriate process, dividing Oceanside,” Shore said. “Kern is doing a good job. The process attempts to buy a seat on the council. Labor negotiations (for the fire department) are coming up at the end of this year. Public safety wants to control both sides of the party. We can’t have any one group control the budgetary agenda. It’s not about public safety. In its true terms, it’s a power grab.”
CARE is making plans to face off with those who support the recall in a citizen debate.
Some of the debate took place at the council meeting. Oceanside resident Jim Sullivan countered the idea that recall is fueled by employee unions.
“I served Jerry Kern with the recall,” Sullivan said. “The facts are people like myself — taxpayers, citizens — have chosen to have this election.”
Other residents for the recall stood by the reasons listed on the recall petition, chiefly saying that they are dissatisfied with how Kern has voted, his ill address of speakers, and his stand against rent control.
“I’m in favor of the recall,” Michael Byron, an Oceanside resident, said. “It allows citizens to remove elected officials in whom they had lost confidence. I simply don’t have confidence in him (Kern) to perform his job on the City Council.”
“You don’t represent me, or a lot of residents in this town,” Nadine Scott, an Oceanside resident, said. Scott sited Kern’s vote against the good faith bargaining agreement with the fire department, a shortage of police, and campaign funds Kern has received from businesses as reasons for his recall.
“You’re still taking money from the asphalt plant, you’re a union buster, you no longer represent us,” Scott said. “Your time is over.”
Chuck Lowery announced that he will run for council during the recall election. Candidates have until Sept. 24 to file their candidacy.