Wood usually was seen as the peacemaker.
  • Wood usually was seen as the peacemaker.
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When Jim Wood talks, Oceanside listens. But Oceanside’s most popular politician is keeping mum.

Chuck Lowery is buoyed by his support of liberalizing marijuana laws.

After serving 30-plus years as an Oceanside policeman, Wood was elected to the Oceanside City council in 2002. Two years later he was elected as mayor and was reelected three consecutive times, often beating his closest opponent by two-to-one margins.

Esther Sanchez. Wood could not stomach Sanchez’s open contentiousness.

Oceanside City Council is fractious. “It’s hard to imagine a more conflicted group than Oceanside already has [on its council],” said longtime political operative Tom Shepard on an interview show on Oceanside’s public access KOCT-TV.

Dana Corso, a Fallbrook dog groomer, is backed by Sanchez.

Wood usually was seen as the peacemaker among enemies on the council dais.

His influence was obvious even when he stepped down as mayor last year following a stroke. He urged the council to avoid a costly election and appoint either city clerk Zack Beck or former city manager Peter Weiss. But insiders say an appointment simply was not going to happen because of the two-Republican/two-Democrat council makeup.

Yet to the surprise of most everyone, Democrat Chuck Lowery took Wood’s advice and in January moved to appoint Weiss, a pro-development Republican. The two GOP councilmembers agreed and Weiss became mayor.

Wood’s endorsement for the November election is considered valuable for the two council seats that are up for election. This is the first election cycle since district elections were approved two years ago. Councilmembers Lowery and Esther Sanchez are slugging it out for District 1 in the northwest quadrant, and northeast District 2 is wide open since incumbent Jerry Kern is not running again.

On July 11 Wood announced he is taking a hiatus and is not endorsing anyone in the 2018 election.

On paper it may seem Wood would side with either Lowery or Sanchez, since all three were once supported by the late Melba Bishop, a two-term pro-citizen councilmember who used her organization to help all three get elected the first time.

But someone close to the ex-mayor says Wood could not stomach Sanchez’s open contentiousness (they didn’t speak for over a year), and Wood thought Lowery had voted too many times with pro-developer councilmembers Jerry Kern and Jack Feller.

This means both District 1 incumbents must compete without Wood’s support and rely on their own constituencies. Sanchez is buoyed by the SOAR (Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources) group. SOAR successfully collected 11,000 signatures to get an initiative on the November ballot which would mandate any zoning changes of Oceanside’s agricultural land be approved by a vote of the public. Lowery is buoyed by his support of liberalizing marijuana laws and on helping homeless with outreach and housing.

At his June 30 campaign kickoff, Lowery called Sanchez a liar for claiming if she were not elected in November she would be kicked off the council. Because of this unusual transitional period from at-large to district elections, Sanchez would actually remain on the council if she were not elected and serve for two more years on an at-large seat that will be dissolved in 2020.

While Lowery is correct on that count, he is wrong about another issue. He has said that if Sanchez wins, the city would have to dole out up to $750,000 to cover a special election to elect her replacement for that at-large seat.

Not true, says city clerk Zack Beck, who says he was notified by the state attorney general’s office last week that based on the California election code, in this case, if the Oceanside council does not appoint a replacement councilmember, it can {ital}not{ital} hold a special election and that seat must remain vacant for two years. This 2-2 tie vote scenario could cripple the council’s effectiveness for those two years.

Wood declined to endorse any of the major candidates in District 2. They include: 12-year councilmember Terry Johnson whom Wood defeated for mayor in 2004; Christopher Rodriguez, a realtor and wounded combat veteran who has a small farm and plans to open a bed-and-breakfast; and Dana Corso, a Fallbrook dog groomer who previously ran two failed campaigns for Oceanside city council. Corso is backed by Sanchez and the SOAR group.

The nomination period for candidates to file paperwork with the city clerk's office to qualify for the ballot begins Monday, July 16 and closes August 10.

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Ken Leighton July 13, 2018 @ 12:57 p.m.

It should be noted that Mayor Wood has endorsed both Sanchez and Lowery in past elections.


AlexClarke July 16, 2018 @ 6:46 a.m.

That being the case then Wood should stay neutral.


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