by: Ruarri Serpa
Oceanside CA– “We’re a big city, but we’re a small town,” Ray Ream said, over an iced-coffee. “We have so much diversity, in small pockets of culture.”
“And I didn’t feel properly represented.”
So Ray launched his campaign for city council member last month, hitting up “cultural pockets” throughout Oceanside. To him, they’re parks, businesses or any other place that draws out the community.
Each one has its own identity and scene, but he doesn’t feel that the people in those pockets are reflected in the current city council. Ray – born Ramon Ream – says the council doesn’t represent young, culturally diverse people. And it’s not good for Oceanside.
“They don’t feel comfortable talking to someone, that they don’t feel like they relate to,” Ray said.
At 33, Ray will likely be the youngest candidate. He forgoes the ill-fitting suits and Hawaiian shirts oft-donned by Oceanside political figures, and goes instead for jeans and sweater, over a button-down shirt. He studies business at Mira Costa, since he went into the workforce after high school. His website redirects to his Facebook page, where he communicates frequently.
And he gives unpolished answers that sometimes show his lack of familiarity with issues, but which seem rooted in a concern for his fellow residents. And not having an answer for an issue is not a problem for him. He prefers to have information, and input from stakeholders before he speaks.
Ray thinks that the hard-line political affiliations of the council are what get in the way of decision-making. Name-calling, and a lack of decorum aren’t his style. “What good is that going to do? Why would I ruin the chance for rational discussion, and to come to a consensus?”
He shies away from categorizing his ideology, but his ideas would fall left-of-center. He talks about living wages, rent control for seniors in manufactured home parks, and the environment. When pressed to describe his political philosophy, he settles on “working-class values.”
His approach to spending money is to think long-term. “When we do things like try to privatize water, we’re selling away our control of that resource, and in the long-term, that doesn’t benefit us.”
Ray’s list of the most important issues affecting Oceanside include revising the strategic plan, curbing development in the city’s green spaces, putting a limit on privatizing city services, livable wages, the quality of jobs, and preserving the culture of the city by listening to people.
Take a recent city council meeting: a group stood up to complain about the support that council members Jerry Kern, Gary Felien, and Jack Feller gave to Oceanside Puppy, which, according to the protesters, sells puppies who are inhumanely treated.
Not once during the public comment, Ray said, did the council look at the people.
On other big issues, he’s worked with council member Esther Sanchez. He’s supports creating walkable and bike-able neighborhoods, putting in a new community pool at Brooks Street, and restoring neighborhood services and employees. He’s against the Melrose Drive Extension, and privatizing city functions, and seemed skeptical of the recently unveiled plan to sell land on Pacific Street to a hotel developer with big subsidies.
For Ray, listening is the key to preserving Oceanside culture. From listening, everything follows: quality jobs, preserving open spaces, improved city services, and a better image for the city.
“And if the majority of the city doesn’t agree with [my message,], then that’s what the majority wants,” Ray said. “The worst case is that people become more active.”
Ruarri Serpa is a freelance reporter from Oceanside, CA. You can contact him directly at RuarriS@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: @Ruarris