The Coast News Group

Oceanside elects deceased treasurer

OCEANSIDE — Deceased City Treasurer Gary Ernst prevailed over challenger Nadine Scott in Tuesday’s race.

According to San Diego County Registrar of Voters’ Wednesday morning vote counts, Ernst received 17,659 votes to Scott’s 15,625, and won by more than 6 percent.

This leaves the City Council to appoint or hold a special election for treasurer, within 60 days of the seat being declared vacant in December.

The city has anticipated the possible decision since Ernst’s passing in September. Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery, Councilman Jerry Kern and Councilman Jack Feller have all previously said they would rather appoint a treasurer, than hold a special election.

Kern has taken it a step further and led the charge to have Ernst re-elected. He said he does not believe Scott has the qualifications to oversee the city’s $300 million portfolio.

“I felt we needed to go through this process to get to this point to have an opportunity to appoint a professional manager,” Kern said. “I think the citizens of Oceanside have spoken, I think they’ve agreed with me, and I think it benefits the citizens of Oceanside that we did this.”

Scott said she will apply for the position, but would prefer a special election. She said she believes a lot of voters were unaware that Ernst had passed.

“I think we need an independent elected treasurer, I want to see that continue,” Scott said.

Scott has worked as an attorney, self-investor and county Resource Conservation District treasurer.

If Oceanside appoints a treasurer it will not be the first time. Its two previous treasures were appointed to their first term. Gary Felien was appointed in 2009 after treasurer Rosemary Jones died.

Ernst was appointed in 2010 when Felien was elected to the City Council.

A formal decision to appoint or hold a special election is expected early next year.

In the meantime, Kern and Lowery will ask fellow council members to put some restrictions on the treasurer position at the next council meeting. They will request that investment oversight board members, who advise the treasurer, be appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council. Currently board members are appointed by the treasurer.

“It’s going to be a fairly significant change,” Kern said. “I wouldn’t say oversight of the (investment) board, but the council would be more engaged in the treasury department.”

The council next meets Nov. 16.