OCEANSIDE — This year’s Meet the City event honored former Mayor Jim Wood who resigned from office due to health reasons Jan. 1.
The Oceanside Chamber of Commerce’s annual event on Jan. 25 began as it traditionally does with handshakes and hellos to business owners and education leaders from city department heads.
Following time to talk and mingle, attendees packed into a conference room where it was standing room only for many. In addition to Oceanside city staff and business owners, area mayors, supervisors and senators gathered to wish Wood well in his retirement and thank him for his four decades of city service as a police officer, police detective, council member and mayor.
Scott Ashton, Oceanside Chamber of Commerce CEO, said the chamber, MainStreet Oceanside and Visit Oceanside came together to plan the business event to honor the former mayor.
Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery was among presenters who awarded Wood a service recognition plaque. Lowery also gave Wood a gold watch and his city parking space sign.
“It was so great the mayor was truly acknowledged by the larger community,” Lowery said. “He was and continues to be Oceanside’s beloved mayor.”
Lowery said Wood was enthusiastic about the recognition and emotionally touched by the outpouring of accolades.
Ashton echoed those thoughts and said community business, education and government leaders were also grateful to have an opportunity to honor Wood.
“It was a whole outpouring of love for the mayor,” Ashton said. “He truly appreciated it.”
Ashton said the chamber is grateful for the mayor’s presence at numerous events including Harbor Days, Operation Appreciation and business ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
“His presence at those events meant a lot to many people,” Ashton said.
Ashton said the chamber also appreciates the opportunity to honor a chamber business member at City Council meetings each month. He said it is a tradition started by Wood, and he is pleased it will continue.
He added what is most memorable about Wood is his enthusiasm for the city.
“He had a knack of getting people excited about our city and community,” Ashton said. “It rubbed off on others. The pride he helped generate was contagious.”
Lowery said he met Wood in 2009, prior to running for City Council in 2010.
“What I learned from the mayor is you can always be busy talking with constituents, but listening, that’s where you make the connection.”
Lowery said he has put that advice into practice and is much more knowledgeable about the city because of it.
He added the mayor’s leadership is greatly missed.
“The community at large saw Jim Wood as a representative of all the people of Oceanside, and doing it in a really competent, sincere, down to earth way,” Lowery said. “He was compassionate about a lot of issues.”
The Police Department also honored Wood at an additional gathering.