Ocean Beach Town Council special election will fill five board vacancies left by resignations

The Ocean Beach Town Council meets online in May 2020.
The Ocean Beach Town Council meets online in May 2020. Board President Mark Winkie and members Arlene Fink, Christie Romano and Isaac Darby resigned recently amid controversy. Vice President Jon Carr left earlier for personal reasons.

The Ocean Beach Town Council is conducting a special election to fill five vacant seats on the 15-member board.

Seven of the eight candidates gave three-minute pitches on their qualifications and goals during the Town Council’s August public meeting. One of them was former OBTC President Jim Musgrove, who subsequently has drawn criticism over several of his past posts on social media — including some that were racially charged and others that disparaged COVID-19 measures.

Derogatory jokes about African Americans are among several past Facebook posts by Jim Musgrove that have been brought to light during his run for one of five vacant seats on the Ocean Beach Town Council board of directors.

OBTC members can vote on the candidates through Sunday, Sept. 5.

Of the approximately 1,000 members, more than 400 (a record) participated in the last board election in January.

Because vacancies during a board member’s two-year term are normally filled by a vote of remaining OBTC board members, a change in the organization’s bylaws was required to accommodate a special election.

“In our normal course of proceedings, typically when vacancies come up midterm, our bylaws ask us to appoint folks,” said OBTC President Corey Bruins. “In my time on the board in the past five years or so, we have never had as many vacancies at one time midterm as we do now.”

The issue arose after four board members, starting with former President Mark Winkie, resigned within a month. Those resignations followed that of Vice President Jon Carr, who quit for personal reasons a month earlier.

On July 6, an unofficial letter from 10 OBTC board members was sent to Winkie requesting his resignation hours after he had written to the board taking responsibility for an undisclosed personal indiscretion and seeking to speak to each member individually. Winkie acquiesced to the request and resigned.

The Ocean Beach Town Council has become embroiled in controversy over the sudden resignation of President Mark Winkie, with two other board members resigning in the aftermath.

Two other board members, Arlene Fink and Christie Romano, subsequently resigned in protest, saying the board members’ letter was rushed and unfair. Romano was a signatory on the letter but rescinded her action.

Another board member, Isaac Darby, departed later after the controversy became public.

After altering its bylaws to allow for a special election, OBTC sent emails asking interested members to submit letters of intent to run for a seat on the board. During the entry period from July 28 to Aug. 8, the board received statements from 13 potential candidates, but five withdrew before the Aug. 25 forum.

That left Musgrove, Mara Cunningham, Tracy Dezenzo, Anna Firicano, Kim Harrell, Deanna Polk, Ashley Carrino Teijelo and Greg Winter.

With Polk unable to attend the meeting, the seven who gave presentations expressed the reasons they wanted to serve on the board. OBTC’s community events, volunteer work and advocacy on issues important to Ocean Beach were noted by most.

Bruins said before the forum began that “the folks that wind up sitting on the board are the core volunteers, really the core of our operation. The ... dedicated hours, the showing up early, the good decision-making, things like that. That’s what we’re looking for in a candidate. We’re looking for people with capacity, people with skill, people who have heart, people who have space to show up and serve OB.”

Other OBTC news

With summer vacations and recesses at their apex during August, only two of the eight regular political and government agency representatives attended the board meeting to deliver reports: Rachel Granadino from state Assemblyman Chris Ward’s office and Officer Michael Hayes of the San Diego Police Department.

Hayes discussed the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions Aug. 9 that allows police to arrest repeat offenders for misdemeanor acts. He said police have resumed “progressive enforcement,” in which violators, including homeless people, can be arrested by their fourth contact with police, after three previous engagements have produced warnings, citations and an offer of services.

“Hopefully that will have an impact with some of these illegal lodging and encroachment issues,” Hayes said.

Resident Bev McCalla said that although related problems in the beach area haven’t been resolved altogether, the difference has been noticeable.

“Every time I go down to the beach now, it’s a nice place to be,” she said. “The parking lot is not full of a lot of folks hanging out doing what they shouldn’t be doing. They’ve moved on to other streets, but at least they’re not just on the main thoroughfare.”

Board member Gary Gartner asked whether police monitor posts about suspicious activity on neighborhood apps where residents often post about things such as traffic accidents in real time.

Hayes expressed an expectation that people would treat crime the way they would a fire or medical emergency.

“We don’t monitor [social media] to get information from the public,” he said. “We hope the public would call us and report those things.”

Hayes advised people who see a discussion of suspicious activity on an app to recommend that police be called or to take a screen shot of the chat and email it to police.


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