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Five chosen to Ocean Beach Town Council board in special election

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.
(File)

Five new members were chosen to the Ocean Beach Town Council board in a special election that ended Sept. 5, filling vacancies created by five recent resignations.

Mara Cunningham, Tracy Dezenzo, Anna Firicano, Deanna Polk and Gregory Winter join the 15-member board following the election, which the Town Council said drew a record turnout among the group’s approximately 1,000 members.

The special election arose after four board members, starting with former President Mark Winkie in early July, resigned within a month. Former Vice President Jon Carr had resigned earlier.

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 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,” OBTC President Corey Bruins said in August.

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 Romano was a signatory on the letter but rescinded her action.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 the 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 a candidates forum held during the Town Council’s Aug. 25 meeting.

That left Cunningham, Dezenzo, Firicano, Polk, Winter, Kim Harrell, Jim Musgrove and Ashley Carrino Teijelo.

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.

Dezenzo, probably the most well-known of the newly elected board members, is a member of the Ocean Beach Planning Board and the San Diego Commission of Arts and Culture.

“I recognize the impact and the influence that the Town Council can have on the Ocean Beach community, but also San Diego,” she said. “I see OB as an integral and important voice in San Diego.”

Meanwhile, candidate statements are already being accepted for OBTC’s regular 2022 board election, with seven seats up for grabs.

To be eligible, candidates must be 18 or older, have Bronze-level OBTC membership and live, work, own property or operate a business in Ocean Beach.

Statements are due by Jan. 24. A candidates forum is scheduled for the board’s public meeting Jan. 26. Voting will be held Jan. 27 through Feb. 4.

To submit a candidate statement, go to obtowncouncil.org/election.

“The folks that wind up sitting on the board are the core volunteers, really the core of our operation,” Bruins said. “The ... dedicated hours, the showing up early, the good decision-making, things like that ... people with capacity, people with skill, people who have heart, people who have space to show up and serve OB.”


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