A divided Oceanside City Council voted Wednesday to strip Mayor Jim Wood of his authority to appoint representatives to regional boards and commissions.
Councilman Gary Felien proposed the change so any councilmember could nominate appointees and make motions to remove appointees. Deputy Mayor Jack Feller and Councilman Jerome Kern voted with Felien.
“I represent you, not the three of them,” Wood said to attendees. “They don’t like that.”
If the proposal passes when the matter is brought before the City Council again in December, Wood could eventually be removed as the city’s representative on the SANDAG board, which governs the agency that oversees countywide transportation planning and funding. Felien said Wood, who appointed himself to the board, doesn’t represent the views of the council majority or the city’s best interests.
“I believe that since those appointees are supposed to represent the City Council as a whole, the City Council as a whole should have more influence,” Felien said.
Feller agreed and said he would like to appoint someone who will fight for Oceanside projects.
“I don’t think we’re getting what we need at SANDAG,” Feller said. “Somebody has to be fighting for things like Highway 78 and 5.”
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez, who voted with Wood against the proposal, said the motion was “one of the most undemocratic acts” she has ever seen.
“I’m embarrassed by it. I’m ashamed of it,” Sanchez said. “Now is the time to rebuild. Stripping the mayor and saying that the mayor doesn’t count isn’t going to get anyone to want to talk to us.”
The majority of public speakers opposed the motion and expressed their support of Wood, who was re-elected Nov. 6 with 54 percent of the vote.
“I don’t understand why this issue with SANDAG is being created just to attack Mayor Wood, when the voters have clearly stated our position to move forward in support of Mayor Wood,” said Eastside Neighborhood Association President Maria Russell, a 12-year resident of Oceanside.
Resident Holly Martin said she has often heard Gary Felien say, “Let the people decide.”
“Well the people just decided,” Martin said. “The people love this mayor … He cares about every faction and that’s why we care about him.”
Charles McVay added: “Just because someone does not agree with you is certainly no excuse to enact a new ordinance just so one can have their way.”
Wood said he may seek legal action to retain his appointing authority.
“If I get removed, I’ll have a battle on my hands and we’ll see where it goes from there,” Wood said. “It might cost you, the taxpayers, some extra money.”
“This isn’t over yet with this vote,” he added.