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SPECIAL COVERAGE: Living With Wildfires: San Diego Firestorm 10 Years Later

Oceanside Mayoral Candidates Spar Over Development

The three candidates for the mayor’s seat in Oceanside have different approaches to development in the coastal community. They sparred at an Oceanside Chamber of Commerce debate this week.

The newcomer to the race is actually an old hand. Terry Johnson was the mayor eight years ago, before the current incumbent Jim Wood was elected. Johnson was quick to distance himself from an attempt by developer Doug Manchester a decade ago to build a multi-story resort that would have blocked off the beach by the Oceanside pier.

“I got blamed for Manchester,” Johnson said, “I did not bring Manchester to Oceanside, I helped get him out of Oceanside.”

But city councilman and mayoral candidate Jerry Kern says there are empty lots in Oceanside where developments have been blocked in the past

“You’re always going to get resistance no matter what project comes forward, and you have to work through that,“ he said. “So you have to go out the community and say, 'Look, how can we have this business and actually ameliorate some of your fears and concerns about the business?'”

Kern is serving his second term on the council after surviving a bitter recall funded by the Firefighters' Union.

Incumbent mayor Jim Wood was elected to the council 10 years ago and won the mayor’s seat two years later. He champions seniors and veterans, who defeated an initiative in June to phase out the city’s mobile home parks.

“You have to sit down and think about people and their lives,” Wood said. “Sometimes you have to look at a neighborhood - or a person overrides a big issue for the city. I think it’s important to do that.”

The Mayor of Oceanside is not a strong mayor like the mayor of the City of San Diego. The Oceanside mayor holds one of five votes on the council. Two council seats are on the ballot this November and five candidates are challenging the incumbents. The outcome of the council race could have as much impact on future development in Oceanside as the mayor’s race.

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