OCEANSIDE — Councilmember Christopher Rodriguez has tossed his hat into the ring for mayor.
Rodriguez announced his candidacy for mayor on July 4.
In his announcement letter, Rodriguez directed his attention to COVID-19 and its impacts on the city.
“COVID-19 has unleashed a level of economic uncertainty the City of Oceanside has never experienced,” Rodriguez writes. “With record unemployment, hundreds of permanent business closures and evolving health orders that restricts the most basic of our constitutional freedoms in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
According to Rodriguez, Oceanside “deserves a leader that can both unite and fight for us” now more than ever.
When asked why he decided to run, Rodriguez told The Coast News via email that Oceanside needs a mayor who can “advocate aggressively on a local, state and federal level.”
“I have a vision and plan to get Oceanside through the economic damages COVID19 has caused to ensure we maintain high levels of public services, City budget stays balanced and our rainy day reserves stay strong,” he said.
Rodriguez is now one of three current city councilmembers who are running for mayor. Councilmember Esther Sanchez and Deputy Mayor Jack Feller are also running.
Rodriguez was first elected to Council as the District 2 representative in late 2018. The councilmember is confident in the policies he has helped to set in that amount of time.
“The policies I’ve ushered in over the past 24 months have set Oceanside on a great path physically and financially,” Rodriguez said.
That list of policies, according to Rodriguez, includes a the city’s new short-term vacation rental policy, a homeless work program, a more streamlined approach to business and development services, low-income housing and down payment assistance opportunities, tax credit incentives for businesses that hire locals and micro-loan funding for businesses struggling from COVID-19.
Since March, Rodriguez has been adamant about getting Oceanside on track to economic recovery from COVID-19 impacts.
Rodriguez forfeited his salary at the end of March as a means to show solidarity with city businesses and residents who aren’t making any income or making less than they were before the pandemic started. He pledged to do it again as mayor until the following conditions are met: city unemployment drops below 4%, every homeless veteran in Oceanside is off the street, and the city is declared “the safest and most business-friendly” city in Southern California.
The Oceanside mayor is paid $36,695.04 annually and councilmembers are paid $33,993 annually.
Outside of his work as a public servant, Rodriguez is a real estate agent.
Recently an article published in The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that at least two Superior Court lawsuits have been filed against Rodriguez in the last two years alleging that he still owed former partners money.
John R. Hetzler filed a lawsuit on May 27 alleging Rodriguez still him money for a house flip project in Murrieta.
Hetzler loaned Rodriguez $100,000 at 12% interest in 2018 to be repaid in six months. When that didn’t happen, Rodriguez told Hetzler he wasn’t going to sell the property because of its insufficient equity to cover the loan.
The two worked out an agreement for Hetzler to buy the property and Rodriguez agreed to pay $20,000 of the principal loan. Rodriguez was also going to repay the remaining $80,000 by refinancing a house he owned in Falbrook, but he ended up not using any of the refinance loan money to repay Hetzler according to the lawsuit document.
Hetzler told the UT that he recently received a “good faith check” from Rodriguez with a promise to pay the debt by the end of the year.
Rodriguez told The Coast News that Hetzler is withdrawing the lawsuit. He also said the lawsuits mentioned in the UT article are “frivolous and/or irrelevant.”
“Dr. Hetzler and I have partnered on past investments and we both have had great success working together,” Rodriguez said.