For the past seven years, it has been my honor to serve as both mayor and council member of my hometown. I also served more than 31 years as an Oceanside police officer. I enjoy being mayor and helping citizens with neighborhood problems, traffic/public safety concerns and senior citizen needs. My time on the City Council has allowed me to serve and improve the city I love — until the last three years. Now I find myself in favor of recalling one of my fellow council members, Jerry Kern.
My first recollection of Kern was his fierce opposition to the El Corazon Initiative. He debated against the El Corazon Park and now takes credit for it. Since Mr. Kern has been on the council, he and his aide, Ben Sullivan, have bullied staff and turned his office into a partisan political office. This partisan politics became evident to everyone when Kern and his voting bloc appointed Gary Felien as city treasurer when Rosemary Jones’ death created a vacancy. Felien is now being investigated by the state for misusing Republican funds to elect Kern’s handpicked candidates: Kern’s aide, Rocky Chavez and Jack Feller. Though a Republican since the day I first registered to vote, I know very well that council members must represent all factions of our community and do what is best for the city of Oceanside.
Kern has insulted speakers who appeared before our council meetings. He tried to overturn the city ordinance requiring lobbyists to register and identify themselves. He became angry when a member of the Oceanside Firefighters’ Association publicly revealed Kern’s meeting with a private ambulance company and its lobbyist to discuss replacing our qualified paramedics with private ambulance drivers. Since that incident, Kern has worked to destroy our fire and police departments, cutting several of their public safety positions. Kern voted to cut the fourth paramedic unit until he began feeling the pain of the Recall Kern campaign come into full swing.
We have worked to improve our public safety services, increased the number of police officers, mandated firefighters cross-train as paramedics, and hired excellent police and fire chiefs. Today crime in our city is at a 30-year low and our firefighters are world-class. But Kern and his council bloc are intentionally changing this.
These budget cuts to public safety are not necessary — they are retribution. There is $5 million available to save our public safety services. Kern found $1 million to do a landscaping project until he heard the public outcry to restore the fourth ambulance. He has agreed to cut police positions so that a new planner can be hired to work on future developments. Because of these blunders, I ask you to recall Kern.
Filed Under: Community Commentary