Oceanside City Councilmember Jerry Kern received an Excellence in Leadership Award for his pioneering support of fair and open competition from the Associated Builders and Contractors of San Diego at its annual Excellence in Contracting Awards on November 17. “We only recognize one political figure each year, and this year the choice was clear,” said Philip Piel, ABCSD Board Chairman. “Jerry Kern has stood up for fair and open competition early and often.” Among Kern’s accomplishments:
- Kern sponsored a city charter for Oceanside requiring fair and open competition in public contracting for the first time in California, saving Oceanside taxpayer millions of dollars.
- Kern travels at his own expense to advocate for reform in other cities and to encourage local elected officials to stand up to labor union pressure against providing equal opportunity.
- Kern is a leader in the region in advocating a “job creation” approach to government
“More competition means lower costs for public construction,” said Kern. “Exclusionary project labor agreements not only drive up costs, but they exclude most local workers and contractors from bidding on the construction projects their own tax dollars fund. We need job opportunities for all workers, union and non-union.”
Project labor agreements (PLAs) place restrictions on contracting which limit the ability of businesses to compete for work, driving up the costs to taxpayers of public construction projects. Voters in the cities of Oceanside and Chula Vista and the County of San Diego have all passed fair and open competition initiatives to date. Voters in the City of San Diego will have their chance to vote on this issue on the June 2012 ballot.
“I will continue to speak out on behalf fair and open competition,” added Kern. “More now than ever, we need robust competition to lower costs. We owe taxpayers nothing less than the maximum value for every tax dollar. We must also ensure that every local business has the opportunity to compete for work funded with their own taxes. It’s simple fairness.”
Imagine that – an elected official standing up to labor unions to save taxpayers money while also leveling the playing field for all of the merit shop construction companies and builders who would like the opportunity to compete for public contracts. It hasn’t always been easy for Jerry Kern to stick to his principles. In 2009 he was the target of a labor union backed recall election, which Oceanside voters soundly rejected for the sham it was. He was re-elected to a full term in 2011.
Councilmember Kern also won much respect for his star turn in the now-infamous “Hangover” theme videos shown at the San Diego County Taxpayers Association Golden Fleece and Golden Watchdog awards this year. Who doesn’t like a politician who takes the issues seriously, but never himself? Congratulations for this well-deserved recognition, Jerry.
Full disclosure: ABC San Diego is a client of my public relations consulting firm, Falcon Valley Group.