The Coast News Group
Election 2020
Cities Election 2020 News Oceanside

Oceanside: Sanchez elected first Latina mayor, Measure L defeated

OCEANSIDE — Last week, residents elected 20-year council member Esther Sanchez as mayor and rejected the controversial Measure L.

Sanchez, who was first elected to City Council in 2000, was born and raised in Oceanside, her family stretching back four generations here according to her profile on the city’s website. She worked as an attorney for 22 years, retiring from the Public Defender’s Office in 2008 after 20 years before starting her law office in Oceanside.

Sanchez will be the city’s first Latina mayor.

Sanchez ran against Deputy Mayor Jack Feller, who was also first elected to Council in 2000, and fellow councilmember Christopher Rodriguez, who was first elected to represent District 2 in 2018.

Esther Sanchez

Sanchez received nearly 30% of the vote, with 24,041 votes total. Rodriguez came in second at nearly 19% with 15,100 votes and Feller third at 14% with 11,768 votes.

There were 12 candidates running for Oceanside mayor this year.

With Sanchez taking the seat of mayor next month, Council’s District 1 seat will be left open.

Councilmember Ryan Keim, who was first appointed to Council in early 2019, won the new District 3 seat with 38% of the vote, and current appointed Mayor Peter Weiss won District 4 with 45% of the vote.

Current City Clerk Zeb Navarro, who was also originally appointed to the role, kept his seat in the election with 64% of the vote.

Residents struck down Measure L, which asked voters whether or not they wanted to uphold the City Council’s adoption of an ordinance that amends the zoning of a property for the North River Farms housing development project.

Last year, Council approved the rezoning of approximately 176.6 acres of agricultural land in South Morro Hills to accommodate the project, which pledged to build 585 homes, a nearly 25-acre commercial village, 68 acres of agriculture and 17 acres of parks and open space.

A referendum petition protesting the adoption of the zone amendment was signed by at least 10% of city voters a few months after the project’s approval, which required the Council to either repeal the amendment or place it on the ballot.

The referendum was placed on the ballot as Measure L. Voters struck down L with 67% of the vote, or 55,743 “no” votes total.

“Measure L going down to more than a 67% – 32% defeat is a clear mandate to Oceanside City Council, as to the direction which voters want Council to go in South Morro Hills specifically and the city generally,” said Arleen Hammerschmidt, one of the referendum petition organizers.

Hammerschmidt said she is proud of Oceanside for coming together to “epically beat back this invader” and for seeing through “the misleading ‘misty watercolor’ ads and mailers” backing the measure.

“Oceanside has found our voice,” Hammerschmidt said. “This is what community looks like.”

While Measure L failed, three other measures in Oceanside passed.

Measure K passed overwhelmingly with 82% of the vote. The measure establishes limits of three, four-year terms whether consecutive or not for mayor and councilmembers.

Measure M, which passed with 61% of the vote, establishes a Cannabis Business Tax of 6% of gross revenues for cannabis retailers, manufacturers and distributors, and 3.5% for cannabis cultivators. The revenues from the tax are expected to generate approximately $1.9 million annually, which will be used for general city services including enforcement against illegal cannabis businesses.

Measure W, a $160 million bond measure to finance facilities and equipment for science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM), passed with nearly 61% of the vote.

In other news, Mike Blessing was re-elected to represent District 5 on the Oceanside Unified School District Board.