Tuesday, August 14, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 23

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 4th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 31 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 31

Solvang City Council battles over vacancy protocols


The Solvang City Council has until Oct. 27 to fill a seat that was recently vacated by Hans Duus, a former council member who resigned on Aug. 28 after moving to Santa Maria. But council members can’t seem to agree on whom to appoint, or rather, how to appoint.

The empty position has been a priority for weeks now, and the Solvang City Council has reached a stalemate—not over who should fill the council’s recently vacated seat, but over whether or not to follow protocol from 2009 that states the position should be offered to the last election’s runner-up.

Karen Waite said at a Sept. 25 meeting that she lost by only five votes in the November 2016 election, and still hopes to serve on the council. Waite told council members she would gladly accept the position, and urged members to follow the protocol outlined in 2009.

Despite letters from residents, vehement public comment, and a petition with 241 signatures—all in favor of the protocol—council members Neill Zimmerman and Ryan Toussaint voted down repeated motions to follow the council’s guidelines on Sept. 25.

“It’s a horrible policy,” Zimmerman said at the meeting. Zimmerman and Toussaint agreed that council members should accept applications for the position before appointing a replacement.

But council protocol states that the position should be first offered to the last election’s runner-up and then the second runner-up if the first declines. If both decline, then Solvang City Council is to accept applications for the position.

Councilmember Joan Jamieson said at the Sept. 25 meeting that the protocol should be followed in this case, and changed later if necessary.

“To nitpick it to death right now is not beneficial to anybody,” Jamieson said.

After more than five motions on the protocol were called and rejected, Mayor Jim Richardson tabled the issue and scheduled a special meeting to discuss the vacancy protocol for Oct. 3, at 6 p.m., after the Sun’s press time. If council cannot appoint a new member by Oct. 27, a special election would be held in April 2018. City staff estimates the election would cost more than $6,000.

Council members could not be reached for comment before the Sun’s press time.

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