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Cerritos City Council Meeting Minutes

MINUTES OF A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE
CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF CERRITOS
HELD FEBRUARY 11, 2008

CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Cerritos City Hall, 18125 Bloomfield Avenue, Cerritos, California.

INVOCATION

Mayor Pro Tem Edwards offered the invocation.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

Councilman Cho led the assembly in the salute to the flag.

ROLL CALL

The City Clerk noted attendance of the following Members of the City Council:

Councilman Bruce W. Barrows
Councilman Joseph Cho, Ph.D.
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Edwards
Mayor Laura Lee

ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION AND/OR CONSIDERATION

Consideration, including possible interviews, and determination regarding applications for appointment to fill a City Council vacancy.

Randy Economy, Cerritos resident, requested clarification on what constitutes a majority vote of the City Council if an appointment were made this evening and spoke in favor of calling an election to fill the vacancy to avoid backroom politicking.

Kit Snider, Cerritos resident, suggested appointing the 4th place finisher from the last election, which she noted would save money and remove any criticism that the appointment is political.  She indicated that if appointment of the 4th place finisher is not made, then the Council should have a special election or leave the position vacant.

Larry Sagert, Cerritos resident, agreed not to run if appointed; urged the Council to make an appointment based on experience, not party affiliation or political philosophy; and asked that the Council not feel committed to a particular appointee because of a previous Commission/Committee appointment.

John Halfenberg, Cerritos resident, called upon the Council to not disregard the vote of the people and to appoint Carol Chen, the runner-up from the last election.

Chris Fuentes, Cerritos resident, asserted that it would be impossible to make a clean decision to appoint and called for a special election.  He opined that the selection process options are flawed and that the cost of an election is an investment in democracy.

Chris Tierheimer, Cerritos resident, requested clarification on the term of Commissioners appointed by John Crawley, calling an election for both the unexpired portion of John Crawley's term and the standard Council term, and eligibility of a Councilmember who has been termed-out to run for this seat.  He expressed a preference for selecting the 4th place finisher from the last election, noting his least favorite preference to appoint.

Rick Ku, Cerritos resident, suggested the 4th place finisher in the last election be appointed, noting the cost factor in conducting a special election.

At the request of the Council, City Attorney Steres responded to inquiries as follows:  an appointment would require a motion, a second, and a majority of those voting in the affirmative; voting scenarios where there are two votes in favor, one dissenting vote, and one abstention, or two votes in favor, no dissenting votes, and two abstentions would result in a majority vote; the City Council made a determination at the last meeting to allow John Crawley's appointees to remain until his successor takes office and makes appointments; the City Charter and State law prohibit a combined election for a vacancy/full term seat; and the City Charter provides that Councilmembers who were termed-out of office at the March 2007 election are not eligible to be appointed to or run for this vacant seat.

Two suggested applicant selection options were reviewed by the City Clerk and Mayor Lee provided a third option.  It was also noted that no nomination papers for the June 3, 2008 election had been issued or filed.  In response to inquiry, the City Manager indicated that it would be the Council's prerogative to ask applicants their intention with regard to running in the next Council election.  A brief discussion was held regarding the selection process as it relates to public comments.

Additional public comments were received at this juncture.

Randy Economy, Cerritos resident, observed that an appointment to fill the vacancy could be made with two Council votes and urged the Council to conduct an election to fill the Council vacancy in the interest of a fair and open process.  He added that the cost of an election is reasonable for the price of democracy.

Chris Fuentes, Cerritos resident, referenced the comments of the previous speaker with regard to the possibility of appointing a Councilmember on two votes; asserted that the selection process is flawed; and discussed the benefits of an election.

Anna Titus, Cerritos resident, indicated that the election process should be honored; asserted that it is the responsibility of the voters to elect a Councilmember, not the Council's; and withdrew her name as an applicant for consideration of appointment to the Council.

Kit Snider, Cerritos resident, urged the Council to stop the appointment process and to call for an election to fill the vacancy.

Alon Barlevy, Cerritos resident, stated that the United States Constitution forbids an election to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate; referenced vacancies on the Cerritos College Board as well as the ABC Unified School District Board where appointments were made in lieu of calling an election; and commented that there is City precedent to appoint rather than hold an election.  He noted that going to an election is not necessarily the right thing to do.

Pino Pathak, Cerritos resident, suggested the Council first make a determination on whether to appoint or call an election prior to continuing with the interview process.

Chris Tierheimer, Cerritos resident, suggested the Council appoint the 4th place finisher from the last election until the results of a special election are certified.

With regard to the suggestion of the previous speaker, City Attorney Steres indicated the City Charter provides that if an appointment is made it is for the unexpired term of the vacated office and there is no provision available to take advantage of the suggestion.

MOTION:  It was moved by Councilman Barrows and seconded by Councilman Cho to confirm earlier action to conduct a June 3, 2008 Special Election consolidated with the County of Los Angeles Primary Election.  The motion carried with Mayor Pro Tem Edwards dissenting.  Mayor Pro Tem Edwards took exception with comments that the Council was not prepared as this is a new experience, noting that the last vacancy occurred in the 1970s, with four previous vacancies going to appointment and two going to elections, and indicated that he was changing his vote to go to an election.

It was pointed out during ensuing discussion that the cost of conducting an election is an investment in the democratic process, and the applicants were thanked for their preparation for participation in the interview process.  Additional discussion was held regarding the possibility of conducting a stand-alone election to address inconsistencies in the Charter.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.

/s/ Josephine Triggs       
Josephine Triggs, City Clerk

ATTEST:

/s/ Laura Lee      
Laura Lee, Mayor

Approved:  February 28, 2008

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