OCEANSIDE — Mayor Jim Wood speaks out on the recall election for Councilman Jerry Kern slated for Dec. 8. Kern and candidates running for his seat also share their views on the recall election that comes with one more year left in the term.
Mayor Jim Wood
Mayor Wood wants residents to know where he stands on the recall election. “I totally support the recall,” Wood said. The reason is a list of comments and actions taken by Kern. “It’s not one thing,” Wood said. “It’s the history of comments Councilman Kern has made.”
Wood said that Kern does not listen to the public on issues, yells at constituents at council meetings, verbally attacks the fire department, and has voted to cut public services to the point that safety may be affected.
Wood said Kern has repeatedly showed lack of support for the fire department by actions such as holding a meeting to consider outsourcing ambulance services, and discussing the closure of firefighting training grounds to put in a waste management station.
“The reason I ran for office was public safety,” Wood said. Oceanside has reduced its crime by 30 percent since Wood has been in office. “I don’t want it to change back to what it was,” Wood said.
“Oceanside is always going to be my city,” Wood said. “Anything I can do to make it a better place, I will. Public safety has changed the image of Oceanside. I think its worth something.”
Wood said Kern has mislabeled firefighters labor union action as a “power grab.” “They have the same guidelines as any city employees union,” Wood said. “They negotiate in good faith. Calling it a ‘power grab’ is foolish.”
While the recall election will cost $500,000, Wood said Kern can do untold damage as part of a 3-2 majority vote, prior to Councilman Rocky Chavez’s resignation which is expected in November. “I don’t think (Councilmen Kern, Jack Feller and Rocky Chavez) they’re acting in the best interest of the citizens or constituents,” Wood said.
Wood said he supports candidate Chuck Lowery for city council.
Jerry Kern’s take
Kern said recall supporters who favor the council minority of Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez are scrambling to find anything to cause friction with voters. Kern said recent hot button issues like the suggestion that gateway landscaping project monies, that Kern voted to OK, can be better used to avoid a brown out of ambulance services — have nothing to do with reasons stated on the ballot for the recall.
Reasons posted on the recall ballot include the charges that Kern puts developers and the council majority above the interest of residents, that he verbally assaults and disrespects citizens, that he held a clandestine meeting with a private paramedic service, that he opposes housing projects for seniors, and that he promises road projects he knows cannot be built.
Kern said that issues have been misrepresented. He said one misnomer is that he sought to privatize ambulance services. Kern said that he, Chavez and Fire Chief Terry Garrison attended an open meeting with an ambulance company. He did not support the private ambulance service once he learned it would effect Oceanside’s boundary drop agreement to provide first response services to Vista and Carlsbad.
Kern said he seeks to balance community safety with community growth, and lately part of that balance has been making difficult budget cuts in the police and fire departments.
Kern charges that the recall is “all union stuff.” He points out that the majority of funding for the recall election is from the Firefighters Association. “They didn’t like the way I voted and got their feelings hurt,” Kern said.
Another issue Kern said has been misportrayed is the claim that he directed Coast Highway Vision Plan consultants to include redevelopment of the Mira Mar senior mobile home park and harbor. Kern said that is false. He requested that the vision plan consultation contract be cancelled once he learned design plans crossed into the harbor area.
Kern said as councilman he has stayed consistent with his platform to develop the vitality of Oceanside and has weighed each proposal brought to council based on its merit and long-term benefit for Oceanside.
Candidates views on the recall election
Candidates running for council if the recall is approved are Rex Martin, Charles “Chuck” Lowery and Rick Kratcoski. The three candidates share some common reasons for running that include supporting citizens’ right to hold a recall election, and wanting to break the 3-2 council split that has pitted council members against each other for many years. Council candidates vow that they are independent from any special interest groups, and offer solutions to the long and sometimes unnecessary council meeting discussions that verge on bickering, prompted by the council 3-2 vote split.
Rex Martin is a retired 911 director and former mayor and councilman of Birmingham, Mich. Martin said he was asked to run as a credible choice on the recall ballot by “both sides of the issue” and is not allied with any special interest groups. “At this point I want to replace Mr. Kern now or in 2010,” Martin said.
Martin said he is against the recent cuts in public safety that Kern voted in favor of and would like to bring the city budget back to the table to look at how funds can be redistributed to better support public safety. “Supporting public safety is the right thing to do,” Martin said.
Martin and his wife moved to Oceanside three years ago and in that time Martin has been involved with the community as an Arts Commissioner, founding member of the Oceanside Museum of Art, and board member of the Oceanside Charitable Foundation. “We have made this our new hometown and are here to stay,” Martin said.
Charles “Chuck” Lowery
Charles “Chuck” Lowery is a businessman and community activist. Lowery had announced that he was running for City Council in November 2010 when the recall election was verified. “We have a crisis situation,” Lowery said. “The most concerned citizens started a recall.”
Lowery said residents do not feel Kern is representing their interests. Lowery pointed to several issues that citizens strongly opposed, but Kern voted to support, including the proposed concrete plant that eventually failed. He added that Kern has not developed a bond with voters and has lashed out at citizens with unprofessional name calling at meetings. Lowery said he is running to represent the citizens of Oceanside and put residents first.
Lowery said as councilman he will listen to residents, the needs of developers, and the expertise of city staff and fellow council members, and work with fellow council members to find solutions.
Rick Kratcoski is a grounds supervisor. He supports citizens’ right to hold a recall election and is campaigning to fill the council seat. “Eleven thousand three hundred citizens seemed to think that Jerome Kern is bad for Oceanside, that is a large segment of Oceanside residents,” Kratcoski said. “I support the citizens right to recall, and I support the recall because I personally have issues with Kern’s service as a council person.” Kratcoski said Kern’s private meeting with ambulance services, and ill treatment of citizens warrants a recall.
Kratcoski said he is not pro-developer or pro-union, but pro-citizen. Kratcoski points to the financial support that Kern and Wood have received from special interest groups and said campaign contributions have unduly effected council decisions. “I want to represent the citizens of Oceanside and not an out-of-town Pilots Association or the Fire Department,” Kratcoski said.
Kratcoski said he would like to break the 3-2 council split that has long controlled Oceanside politics by passing a citizens’ campaign finance reform bill that would limit campaign contributions and the influence of special interest groups, and allow council to work together.