OCEANSIDE — Council voted 3-1 to put the vacant council seat, left empty by the resignation of Rocky Chavez in December, on the June special election ballot at the Jan. 6 council meeting. Councilman Jerry Kern voted no. The position will last five months, which is the remainder of the seat’s term, and cost $40,000 to be added to the June ballot.
The council decision to add the position to the June special election came after two failed attempts to appoint someone to the seat. Council members suggested Sam Williamson and Charles “Chuck” Lowery for appointment, but both failed to get a council majority vote.
With four members currently on the council, who frequently fall into the pattern of 2-2 vote split, a lot rested on a possible appointment.
“To pick somebody changes voting majority in that instance,” Mayor Jim Wood said.
Councilman Jack Feller nominated Williamson who has previously served on the council.
Feller described Williamson as an experienced “been there done that” candidate who would fill the seat, but not run in November. In a 2-2 vote, Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voted no on the nomination.
Sanchez nominated Lowery who has had two strong runs for council. Lowery ran for council in December 2008 and failed as a close third to incumbents Sanchez and Feller.
He ran again in the recall election last November and got the majority of the votes, but the recall failed.
Sanchez said strong public support for Lowery cannot be ignored.
In a 2-2 vote, Kern and Feller turned down the nomination of Lowery.
Several other names were shared by council members for consideration, but not voted on.
“There are a number of people who seem to have a willingness to serve, but not continue on,” Feller said.
Included in the list of potential short-term candidates shared by Feller was former Mayor Terry Johnson.
Feller said Johnson offered to take the five-month seat without pay as a cost-saving measure.
With no agreement reached on whom to appoint the item was added to the special election. Candidates who wish to run for the seat have between Feb. 16 and March 12 to file.
In November there will be an election for the full two-year term of the same council seat and for the seat presently held by Kern.