OCEANSIDE — For the first time ever, the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce has endorsed City Council candidates for the November elections.
The Chamber announced it is endorsing Ryan Keim for the District 3 council seat and Peter Weiss for District 4 on Aug. 18, making it the first time the Chamber has ever endorsed candidates.
Keim is a former Oceanside police officer and a current council member who was appointed to fill a vacant seat in early 2019. Weiss was appointed as mayor in 2018 and is currently still serving the role until the end of this year.
According to CEO Scott Ashton, the Chamber decided to engage in the local political process because it desires to have “business-friendly” leaders.
“The mission of the Oceanside Chamber is to stimulate economic prosperity and foster a vibrant community,” Ashton said in a letter announcing the endorsements. “For this to happen, it is critical that our elected leaders have a strong understanding of the importance of creating a business-friendly environment.”
Ashton explained the Chamber is viewed as a leader on business issues in the city, making its input on the local election process “critical.”
The Chamber is allowed to endorse candidates with our without a Political Action Committee (PAC) because of its status as a non-profit organization.
Called the “Advance Oceanside PAC,” the Chamber’s PAC will help fundraise and secure victories for its endorsed candidates in the two district seats.
According to the PAC, Keim has kept open lines of communications with the business community and regularly reaches out to Chamber staff and leaders.
Keim also regularly participates in chamber events and roundtables and has advocated for a streamlined permit and approval process for development, increased height allowances and density downtown, and a new program that makes it easier and affordable for residents to build accessory dwelling units.
Keim has also focused on helping businesses get through the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted the city made it easier for businesses to operate outside if possible and also introduced a business loan program and reduced fees.
“We didn’t want city red tape or fees to be a barrier that would keep businesses from opening,” Keim said.
Keim also started the region’s first economic recovery taskforce, which has opened lines of communication between local, state and federal officials across party lines to discuss what cities like Oceanside need to get through the pandemic.
“Having everyone in that same room made a big difference,” Keim said. “We still have a lot more work to do but it’s easier for us now to pass those concerns along.”
Keim said having the Chamber’s support means a lot, especially after working with them so closely for the last six months.
“I really I hope a brought some relief to businesses and I hope to continue doing so going forward,” Keim said.
According to the Chamber PAC, Weiss has “consistently demonstrated his support for business and overall economic development to expand the City’s tax base.” The PAC said Weiss also understands how the city works from a “variety of perspectives” given his past staff roles as City Engineer and City Manager.
The PAC also states that Weiss recognizes the need for housing stock in the city.
“He has strong ideas for encouraging developers to build affordable housing units, advocating for a variety of opportunities including infill projects along the coastal corridor to “reasonable and planned development of South Morro Hills.”
Weiss was one of three council members who approved the North River Farms development project to be built in South Morro Hills. The Chamber also supports the project.
Weiss said he was “surprised and honored” to receive the Chamber’s endorsement and considers it a “significant accomplishment.”
“I share the Chamber’s vision of pursuing economic prosperity,” Weiss said.
Weiss said he is supportive of small businesses in particular because they are the “cornerstone of a healthy economy.” His goal is to continue partnering with small businesses and reduce regulations so those businesses can get open and stay open.
Weiss noted businesses like Breakwater Brewing and Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen took considerable risks when they first opened, and have since brought “significant prosperity” to Oceanside by encouraging other businesses to open downtown and beyond.
“Those businesses have resulted in what I think is significant prosperity for Oceanside,” Weiss said. “I want to make sure that continues and the Chamber does as well.”
The Chamber is not endorsing a candidate for Oceanside’s mayoral race this year, however, the PAC noted it interviewed several candidates and felt that both candidates Deputy Mayor Jack Feller and Councilmember Christopher Rodriguez would “continue to be strong advocates and leaders for the business community” as mayor.
According to the Chamber PAC, Feller and Rodriguez were instrumental in streamlining the city’s housing development permitting process.
“It is incredibly important that we keep the City moving in the positive direction that these two leaders have been part of building in recent years,” Chamber CEO Ashton said.