OCEANSIDE — Democrat Charles “Chuck” Lowery won by 134 votes in an extremely close race for the open City Council seat with a six-month term in the special election on June 8.
“I only need one vote to win,” Lowery said.
Lowery said his focus in office will be on the city budget and weighing both the dollar value and human value of budget cuts in his decisions.
“My focus will be to really understand what it’s costing us to run the city,” Lowery said. “Not to just make cuts, but to make thoughtful cuts. I’m very concerned we will not have enough money to keep our essential services going.”
Republican Lloyd Prosser, who was “unknown” until the campaigning started four months ago, came in a close second with 7,178 votes to Lowery’s 7,312 votes.
Prosser said his concerns for the city remain its fiscal health, and ability to attract new businesses and maintain its infrastructure during tough economic times. “My stand on the issues has not veered,” Prosser said.
Prosser said he will take some time to reflect before he decides if he will run again in the November election. “I would be running against an incumbent,” Prosser said. “Five months of service is a huge advantage. I don’t know if the public would change their minds.”
Candidate Ken Crossman received 2,049 votes, Ward O’Doherty received 1,930 votes and Michael Lucas received 1,010 votes.
Proposition K, the city charter proposition, passed with 10,668 yes votes to 9,232 no votes. Supporters see the charter as a vehicle to save the city money.
“Certainly short term we can start saving a tremendous amount of money,” Gary Felien, city treasurer and Yes on K Oceanside Charter Committee chair, said. “The immediate effect is on all public works contacts that used to be subject to prevailing wage. Long term it will affect the pension crisis and how we can address that. By saving money in one area it helps other areas.”
Citizens who opposed the charter fear it will put too much power in the hands of City Council. “Some think it’s the greatest thing going, but it’s not necessary to save money,” Nadine Scott, Citizens Against Charter co-chair, said. “We need to keep the power with the residents in the city, not out-of-town lobbyists.”
The grassroots effort to oppose the charter ran on a slim campaign budget of less than $1,000. Charter supporters collected more than $50,000 in campaign contributions, most of it donated by the building industry.
“My fear is all the developers will come back with their hands open asking for sweetheart deals,” Scott said.