OCEANSIDE – North County’s largest city is still reeling from the results of the recent Midterm General Election. Newly created council districts lead to a faceoff between incumbent Councilmembers in District 1. The result is a vacancy in the existing “at-large” seat formerly occupied by Councilmember Esther Sanchez who bested her D1 rival, former Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery. Residents worry that the council may become stagnant and ineffective in the absence of a tie breaking vote.
During the council’s December 19 meeting, council declared the seat vacant and voted 3-1 to interview candidates, and to appoint someone to the seat by its next regular meeting on January 9. Amidst growing public speculation that a successor has already been chosen behind closed doors, a field of over two dozen applicants has emerged to express their interest in representing Oceanside.
Amongst the frontrunners is Oceanside Housing Commissioner Michelle Gomez, a recent candidate for County Supervisor who can count among her supporters over 20,000 Oceanside residents who voted for her just under two months ago. Gomez has also garnered support for the appointment from both the Oceanside Firefighters Association which backed her in her previous bid for Supervisor, and Oceanside Police Officers Association who backed her opponent in the Supervisor race.
Also vying for the appointment is former Oceanside City Councilmember Jerry Kern. After 12 years as a Councilmember Kern waged an unsuccessful bid for the same County Supervisor seat as Gomez who bested him by nearly 5,000 votes in the primary, leading in nearly every Oceanside precinct. Kern is seeking the appointment after deciding not to run for re-election to the newly created Council District 2 following the results of the primary election.
The outcome between these two contenders could be very different this time around however as Kern would hold the advantage of a being a registered Republican seeking the appointment from a majority Republican Council. The vote count alone stacks the deck in favor of a Republican applicant receiving the appointment despite Councilmembers’ reassurances that a fair and impartial decision will be made.
While Oceanside City Council is officially nonpartisan, applicants for the appointment run the gamut of political affiliation. Gomez, a resident of the currently unrepresented City Council District 4 is a Democrat. She feels that her district deserves a voice on council and seeks to be that voice.
“I’ve been listening to the residents of Oceanside for over two years now, and it’s clear they want a fresh approach on the council. Oceanside is both urban and rural with a rich cultural diversity that makes it unlike any other north county community. We need to find the right balance between smart and responsible growth and preserving Oceanside’s character, and we must do so while addressing issues including homelessness, public safety, traffic congestion, and a lack of affordable housing options. I’m prepared to hit the ground running to make an immediate impact.” says Gomez.
Gomez points out that regardless of the outcome of the appointment, she will still seek election in 2020. She has already opened exploratory committees for either a Mayoral or District 4 run.
The appointment to the vacant seat is to be decided at the upcoming Jan. 9 council meeting. Oceanside City Council meetings are broadcast live on KOCT.
About Michelle Gomez: Michelle Gomez currently serves as a Commissioner on the Oceanside Housing Commission and is the chair of the Homelessness Ad-hoc Committee. She is a member of NAACP, Oceanside Women’s Resource Center, Friends of the Library and is a co-founder of an amateur sports program aboard Camp Pendleton. Countywide she is a member of the San Diego County Domestic Violence Council, Lawyers Club of San Diego, and National Women’s Political Caucus of San Diego. As a long-time community advocate, she has served the working families in our county by standing up for women, minorities, homeless children, veterans and military families, and those suffering from physical, mental, and emotional trauma. Her community work serving military families was awarded multiple times by the Obama Administration.