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North County Cities Facing Big Election Issues

Proposition J, Oceanside Mayor Race
North County Cities Facing Big Election Issues
GUESTSKent Davy, former editor, North County Times David Garrick, North county reporter, U-T San Diego

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh. In San Diego's North County there are many interesting political issues on the ballot. As we continue election coverage on Midday Edition we will focus on the Oceanside Mayor's race, the charter city issue on the Escondido bill known as proposition P and the village of downtown Del Mar proposed in proposition J. I'd like to welcome my guests, Kent Davy is former editor of the North County Times. Welcome to show. KENT DAVY: Thank you for having me. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: David Garrick is North County reporter for UT San Diego, David, hello. DAVID GARRICK: Hello, thanks. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Kent, let's start with you. Tell us about the three candidates running for mayor of Oceanside. KENT DAVY: You have a really interesting recent Oceanside you have the incumbent Mayor Jim Wood who was first elected in 2004 defeating Terry Johnson. The second candidate is Jerry Kern who is a sitting City Councilman who is in a safe seat that is even if he loses this election he will retain his seat, the third candidate is the aforementioned Terry Johnson come back to haunt the race I guess in a sense and the dynamics of that are pretty interesting in the sense that there is a three to split normally on the Oceanside city Council with Esther Sanchez be the minority, Jerry Kern, Jack Feller and... DAVID GARRICK: Gary (Inaudible) KENT DAVY: Thank you, being the majority. Feller is one of the people running for Council. So for the two open seats, so this whole election has the possibility of completely changing the dynamic in the Oceanside race. Which raises the question of, why is Terry Johnson and the race? And you've got the two general lines of speculation our first, he's there as a spoiler potentially. We did and headed board a month or so ago with these guys present and what and Terry Johnson went after each other hammer and tongs and very harsh language toward each other clear dislike between the two men which is part I think of what leads me to speculate part of why Terry is doing this trying to bleed off some of Jim Woods support. It works out this way. Kern is a conservative kind of business, pro-businessman, pro-market kind of guy. Will it is a moderate Republican who is by his critics accused of being both a rhino and a Democrat. Terry has been both the Democrat and Republican depending on what he needed to be. When he ran for mayor of Oceanside he ran as a Republican. He switched his affiliation back to being a Democrat when Obama ran in 2008 and he is again although it is a nonpartisan race I think he still registered as a Democrat which would lead me to believe that he would carve MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you, is it personal? Because it seems from what I have read Jim and Terry Johnson actually agree on a lot of issues. KENT DAVY: I would guess that it's personal. I don't know that because I think you'd have to ask them exactly. And Terry I assume believes he can win this thing, that it's not simply a spoiler race on his part. The popular wisdom I think is that would probably has the edge he is the incumbent mayor his side one on a couple propositions that current pushed and got it's not clear how much backwash there is the proposition that cost a lot of concern was that a blog vacancy rent decontrol proposition I really start up the set of people living in a mobile home communities as well as some associated is veterans supported so though tend to be a senior, veterans, lower income population. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Kent, tell us about some of the other issues. There's a mobile home issue what are some of the other issues that are big in this mayor's race? KENT DAVY: I think the two next biggest ones are occurrence proposals that pieces of the government be looked at for potential privatization with would say that I'm not going to do that. DAVID GARRICK: Doesn't about the idea that sort of what is the union candidate MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That is David Garrick. KENT DAVY: Exactly taken position to the left of where current is, and Terry doesn't share some and that the other one is similar as extension and the traffic plan has been a big big point of contention. There was a lawsuit I think the lawsuit must've been a year and a half or two years ago to stop on environmental grounds. The lawsuit was settled about a year ago that allowed the city to go forward, but the people in the neighborhood, and this is a piece of roadway that is kind of on the edge between Vista and Oceanside leading up to the 76. It would allow a lot of traffic flow through there, the neighborhood residents are worried about it being cut through traffic about it just adding to their general, we don't like traffic in our neighborhoods. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you you said that conventional wisdom says that Mr. Johnson is not necessarily going into this as a spoiler. He's going to win. So, what does it look like in terms of who has got the edge? Is it the incumbent Jim Boyd? Might we see an upset? My guess is that Wood probably has the edge unless Mr. Johnson tears enough support off of the edge to allow Kern in. I think there was so much anger about the mobile home parks that you've got a fairly active opposition base although I've talked to Jerry Kern on Friday and he said no that he thinks it is not an issue, that it has not been raised with him when he is out knocking on doors. I also talked to Jim Boyd though and Jim suggest exactly the opposite. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let's move to Escondido and David, there's a lot of voters there's a lot actually for voters to consider in Escondido. We are talking about a proposition that would make Escondido a charter city and also contestants for the city Council there. DAVID GARRICK: There's another measure on the ballot that would update the general plan and make the city more dense in the center. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let's talk proposition P for a minute. This would change Escondido into a charter city, what would that do and what do supporters and those opposed say it would do? DAVID GARRICK: The supporters of focus mostly on the idea that it would save a lot of money on construction projects because it would exempt the city from paying prevailing wage on construction products that don't projects identical state or federal funding the estimate is over the next 10 years would be a 160 million projects would save the city estimated 60 million according to the city manager the critics call that overblown and exaggerated it's hard to determine what exactly the amount would be but these are projects listed on the city's docket MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: (Inaudible) overblown and exaggerated like there's a state and federal money that would negate the city's ability to not pay prevailing wage KENT DAVY: The city manager says the list of projects, he says our projects he says will not include state or federal money and with redevelopment cuts that is what the state has used in such projects isn't going to happen anymore so there may be some truth on the city manager side. DAVID GARRICK: This is following the heels of the Oceanside city (inaudible). Which Wood was drafted by people associated with Ling and Feller with the majority. Neither the billing industry. In the building trade Association and was the first source opponents of Escondido's decision to move forward with the charter and other big cities all have charters Escondido would be the last. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Which kind of makes this a crazy proposition P, kind of an argument between supporters and opponents because it also includes changing Escondido to a district election city, a cause that has been supported great deal by the Latino community in the engines in that city and they wind up now on the other side of that. Tell us about that. DAVIS GARRICK: That's how this happened Escondido would be diversity the county to district elections if it does get approved. Basically because the union got involved fighting the charterThey said it looks like the city is vulnerable to the state election, the voting rights law and because there's been a pattern of Latinos not be collected even though they make up 49% of the population. So the union got involved and found some plaintiffs and filed a lawsuit and it turns out the way the law is written in Escondido pretty much has no chance so the cities had to agree to go to district elections but it's created strange bedfellows He's going to be determining how the district are at least playing a key role in how city officials think they are going to be MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: If proposition does when deciding it, does that negate that lawsuit or does the lawsuit continue? He agreed that he would suspend the lawsuit until it turned out and if it's proof that it doesn't the lawsuit as long as he satisfied with the way the districts are drawn. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay let's move on to the city Council candidates we have to incumbents Olga Diaz and Mike Marasco and all bunch of other people running. A lot of people want to be on the city Council. DAVID GARRICK: I would say this is the least interesting city Council race and well because in a way you honestly have Olga Diaz the first Latina elected in the history of the city and only the second Latino elected since 1988 that was a big moment and in 2010 you had three city sitting councilman running for an open mayor see this one from everything I can tell the two incumbents aren't really strong shape to be reelected. There is no polling in small cities but they look to be in structured. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Is that because there is so much in the field DAVID GARRICK: I think that's part of episode of the Chamber of Commerce pro-development group that got it from someone against Olga Diaz that is part of the city Council majority chose not to and I talked to the mayor about it and he said he thought well he didn't agree with Diaz on many issues she made the Council more well-rounded and they decided to finding not find a strong right-wing candidate to run against her. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The Council Council votes on, the controversial things tend to be four to one. DAVID GARRICK: He said in Oceanside it might swing the balance, but here is Marasco were to use it would still be 3 to 2 in favor of the right wing, I guess you would call it, more conservative side. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay more conservative, yes, let's move now from Escondido to Del Mar and proposition J causing a lot of angst among the voters. Kent, if it passes how will it change downtown? KENT DAVY: It is a specific plan proposition in a defined area from about nine up to 15 so a six block area of with some territory on the North that would do, allow for some mixed-use commercial and residential development. It would take the main thoroughfare there and drop it from 4 to 2 in the roundabouts on it where the streetlights are now. It would allow buildings on the west side of Camino Del Mar to go to to stories. It would do some history and improvements and so forth. It is an attempt by the proponents to argue that the village concept of Del Mar needs to be revitalized and updated. The opponents side are saying this is not it's going to cause traffic congestion, going to cause too many people it is not well thought out, is not real economic development and so on and so forth. That's basically how the two sides there. DAVID GARRICK: Generally the idea is let's preserve the Del Mar we know, the Del Mar we moved her for why did you move to Del Mar when you did, you liked a certain element to it and this is going to make it more intense and commercial and different than what you like. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Kent is there the idea that there didn't need to be some changes in the city of Del Mar into a thoroughfare. But perhaps the opponents say this is not it? KENT DAVY: I think that maybe in some of the criticism. The chief argument that I have seen about going forward going forward with a specific plan is that you need an influx of people, Del Mar is tiny. Okay but 4200, 5000 people something like that and has apparently been losing population although I do not have those numbers at the top of my head. There is concern that if it doesn't find some economic growth somehow, a spurt to it that it will continue to wither away its tax base. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see we have to end it there. Thank you very much and I want everybody to know by the way there's a public meeting tonight on Del Mar's village specific plan that is prop J if you want to learn more it's from six to 7:30 PM at the City Hall Annex. I've been speaking with Kent Davy, David Garrick thank you both very much. BOTH: Thanks. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: A reminder that KPBS voter guide breaks down the major races and issues into clear language. You will find it at guide.

While much of the media attention in San Diego County this election has been focused on San Diego, there are some close races in North County, particularly in Oceanside, Escondido and Del Mar.

Oceanside will select a new mayor from among three candidates for the $32,000-a-year position: Jim Wood, the current mayor and former police department senior investigator; Jerry Kern, current council member; and Terry Johnson, former mayor of Oceanside.

Issues in the race to lead the coastal city are budget deficits, outsourcing, the Gregory Canyon landfill and mobile home parks.


Escondido voters not only have to weigh eight candidates for City Council, but must decide whether to make their city a charter city.

Becoming a charter city means Escondido can take more local control over zoning and redistricting, which means the council will set its own boundaries. The charter city measure also includes a provision for district-only elections, and the council, currently elected at-large, will draw the boundaries.

Del Mar residents are deciding whether to re-draw downtown. Proposition J would take the main thoroughfare through town from four lanes to two, add roundabouts and parking, widen sidewalks and increase building heights on the west side.