Oceanside CA— The November 8 election results have been certified and the Mayor, City Council-members, and City Clerk were sworn in during a special Oceanside City Council meeting Wednesday morning.
Mayor Jim Wood was sworn in by City Clerk, Zack Beck. City Council-member Esther Sanchez was sworn in by Mel Vernon. Council-member Jack Feller asked former Oceanside Mayor, Terry Johnson to do the honor and Zack Beck was sworn in by family members.
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Following the swearing in portion of the meeting, the council got down to the business of what to do about the vacant City Treasurer seat. The Treasures race was international news after incumbent Gary Ernst, who passed away on September 23, won re-election over the only other challenger in the race, Nadine Scott.
Because the death of Gary Ernst happened after the cutoff period to take his name off the ballot, the election moved forward with his name on the ballot.
According to State law, the City Council had two choices; set up a special election which would have cost the taxpayer more than half a million dollars, according to Zack Beck, or begin the process of appointing a qualified candidate to the seat. In a 5-0 vote, the City Council chose to begin the appointment process.
“I request you to appoint me immediately on behalf of myself and the 27,766 Oceanside voters who vetted me and voted for a living qualified candidate.” Nadine Scott told the council during public comments prior to council action on the matter. Scott claimed that many voters assumed she would be automatically appointed to the position.”They are frustrated that a handful of elected officials will try and choose the next Treasurer the voters have not met, vetted or otherwise examined through the fair and democratic process of an election.”
Alternately, Scott asked the City Council to rescind the election certification “Apparently, it was widely known, all the way to the top here in the City, that Mr. Ernst did not live in Oceanside and that he was using his mother’s rest home address on his official documentation.” said Scott, “That makes him ineligible.” Scott stated that when Ernst moved away from Oceanside “That was some time ago”, the office became vacant. “City employees who knew this had an obligation to come to the City Attorney and have that office declared vacant. Instead, we’ve gone forward with this promotion of a deceased candidate that many knew, including Mr. Kern, was not eligible to be elected.”
During the campaign, City Council-member Jerry Kern urged voters to vote for the late candidate insisting that Scott was not qualified to hold the office saying, “Ms. Scott does not get to win by default because her opponent passed away.”
Scott said if the Council didn’t void the election and appoint her, the next step would be for the police department to investigate and she told the Council that the Carlsbad Police Department confirmed to her that Mr. Ernst was found deceased in Carlsbad.
Scott concluded “I just want to remind you that you took an oath, all of you, similar to what was read today, you have to honor that and the people who voted for me. Perpetrating fraud in an election and deceit is wrong. It’s immoral. It violates our democratic voting system and it’s against the law. I know all of you have a great desire for public service and I hope you will honor that service by doing the right thing and appoint me, the only eligible, qualified candidate for Treasurer.”
Councilmember Sanchez, a supporter of Scott during the campaign, made a motion to appoint Nadine Scott to the seat after espousing Scott’s qualifications but the motion was met by silence from the Council and the motion was denied. Council-member Kern then made a motion to adopt the process of appointing the through the application process. After Councilmember Sanchez was assured that Ms. Scott could apply for the seat by the City Attorney, the vote was unanimous.
January 7, 2017 has been set for the application deadline for the vacant seat. January 11, 2017 for interviews with the candidates in the City Council Chamber and January 18 for the confirmation of the appointment.