For quite a while, I’ve expressed a desire to vote for those who serve us in Simi Valley, as opposed to settling for a simple appointment process. There are arguments both for and against appointments, but it’s difficult for me to willingly waive my right to vote. I do not believe that my single vote is worth the tens of thousands of dollars for a special election, but I do believe the votes of our entire city’s population are. That’s my opinion, and those who disagree with me make good points, such as the historically low turn-out for special elections (as low as 20% in some cases). Typically, seats are left vacant when a Council Member is elected Mayor, but a seat can be vacated for any reason which would prompt the Council to consider an appointment.
At the City Council meeting, several people spoke out against continuing the practice of appointing Council Members to fill vacant seats. Among them were former City Council candidate Doug Crosse, representing the Simi Valley/Moorpark Tea Party, who was firmly against the practice of appointing new members of the Council and wanted to retain his right to vote for those who represent him locally.
Tonight at the City Council meeting, City Staff indicated a cost of $200,000 for a special election. Council Member comments followed. Mike Judge opted to do away with appointments, favoring special elections when possible. Steve Sojka indicated a desire to set aside funds to account for the possible circumstance of a special election. Glen Becerra, though he believes the appointment process has served Simi Valley well, appreciates democracy but voiced his preference for keeping a seat vacant rather than spending $200,000 on a special election. Becerra would prefer filling a vacant seat by way of a regularly scheduled election. Barbra Williamson also expressed a desire to keep the seat vacant until a regularly scheduled election, choosing not to continue to support an appointment process. Lastly, Mayor Huber expressed his desire to let the people be heard and supports the notion of a special election, citing the City of Thousand Oaks recent initiative to preserve the right to vote.
Mayor Huber made a motion to adopt an ordinance to have a special election in the event of a City Council vacancy, similar to what was adopted in Thousand Oaks. After some discussion, however, it was determined that the details of the Thousand Oaks ordinance weren’t fully researched by all the Council Members. Additionally, concern was expressed about hearing comments from the Neighborhood Councils and the public.
So we’re not quite there yet… but we’re getting there! This is very encouraging. Stay tuned.