OCEANSIDERS UNITED: Incorporation Conversation (ongoing) – City Council Candidates

Here are the announced candidates for Oceanside’s City Council, who will take office only if the incorporation measure passes.  They reflect an encouraging mix of neighborhoods. Here are the candidates in the order they will appear on the ballot. Each voter will choose 5 candidates, and the top 5 vote-getters will serve on the Council. The top 2 will serve 3-year terms. The next 3 will serve 2-year terms. The Council will choose a Mayor from among themselves.

Blake Marvis, Avalon East
Cynthia Miller, Terrasea
Jerry Keene, Village
John Prather, Terrasea
Sharon M. Brown, Village
Craig Wakefield, Village
Gill Wiggin, Village
Bruce Jaeger, Avalon East
Simeon Dreyfuss, Village
The ONA has invited each of these candidates to provide background information and a “voter message” for publication before the election.

Ongoing FAQs and Analysis
As previously reported, the ONA intends to publish ongoing FAQ discussions between now and the election. While the ONA members have officially voted to endorse incorporation, the Board’s goal is to offer information and analysis that we hope will be useful to those still making up their minds. Here’s our take on one such issue: nonresident voting.
Why can’t every property owner vote on incorporation?
Throughout the ONA debate and county hearings, some Oceansiders have repeatedly objected to incorporation because only voters registered here may vote on it in the November 8th election. This excludes part-time residents and nonresident property owners from voting on an issue that will obviously affect them, both financially and as a matter of civics. Here’s our analysis:

Despite the repeated objections, this was not a circumstance within the control of the County Commissioners or the incorporation petitioners. The incorporation law states that a petition for incorporation must be placed on the ballot if the petitioners (1) gather valid signatures from at least 20% of registered voters within the proposed city, and (2) persuade the County Commissioners in hearings that incorporating Oceanside is feasible. The petitioners met those requirements. It should be noted, however, that roughly half of the 200 ONA members who participated in the ONA endorsement vote last December were part-time or nonresident property owners, and the endorsement passed 62% to 38%. In addition, the incorporation petitioners complied with the County Commissioners’ suggestion that they mail notices of the incorporation hearings to all property owners.

Once placed on the ballot, the Oregon Constitution and election law are clear that people may only vote once in an election, and that they must register to vote based where they are a “resident.”  If a voter’s residency status is challenged, the laws addressing “residency” state that it should be determined by factors such as one’s driver’s license address, the residence from which utility bills are paid and, in general, by determining where the voter generally “intends to return” when they are “away.”  The County Clerk has indicated that she will apply these factors if anyone challenges incorporation votes cast by recently registered voters.

This issue of nonresident voting routinely arises when the county, a city or other special districts place a measure affecting property taxes on the ballot. That said, the concern takes on extra significance in Oceanside’s incorporation election, where at least 50% of the property owners affected by the creation of a new city (and city property tax) cannot vote on it. Given that the residency requirement is mandated by law, the question then becomes whether the impact on nonresident owners should affect how residents vote on the measure. It’s a tough question. Incorporation opponents contend that we should refrain from forming a city when so many of the people affected have no voice in it. Incorporation supporters respond that residents should not lose their right to pursue the benefits of incorporation merely because their area is a popular location for second homes. Oceansiders will have to make up their own minds on that when they vote in November.

Next time, we will address the debate over the projected city budget approved by the County Commissioners and its relationship to the budget that City Council members will actually adopt.