Right to Vote in Simi Valley

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.

Political Appointments in Simi Valley Should End

Both Michelle Foster and Steve Sojka were appointed to the Simi Valley City Council to fill empty seats outside of an election cycle. I have nothing against Michelle Foster or Steve Sojka and believe both have served the community well. However, I would like to bring an abrupt end to the political appointment process and put the selection of ALL City Council members back in the hands of voters.

Two years ago, I made reference to a special election in Moorpark that took place to fill an empty City Council seat.  The seat was vacant after a sitting Councilmember, Janice Parvin, was elected Mayor of Moorpark. The process involved appointing an interim Councilmember to fill the vacant seat until the election could be organized and executed, resulting in a new permanent Councilmember elected by Moorpark voters. Without a doubt in my mind, I firmly believe this is how it should be handled in Simi Valley.

If you consider the upcoming ballot for Simi Valley voters, it’s hard to say at this point whether or not there will be a vacant seat on the City Council. Though both campaigns for Mayor are in full swing, I have yet to identify a front-runner. I suspect that as both candidates begin to focus more on the issues, we’ll see voter reactions and get a clearer picture. Suppose, however, that Councilmember Sojka is victorious in his bid for Mayor. The current procedure would be for the Council to appoint someone to fill the vacancy, and Simi Valley voters won’t have a say.

I plan to follow-up with the City to find out what we need to do to put these choices back in the hands of Simi Valley voters. I personally feel like I would be a shameless hypocrite if I didn’t put forth some effort to change that policy. The purpose of this website is to celebrate free speech and democracy, after all! And while you may trust the judgment of the City Council, I’m pretty comfortable with my own judgment as well.

I am curious to know who supports this idea, so please leave some comments so we can discuss.