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.

Moorpark Does it Right

Councilmember Janice Parvin of the Moorpark City Council is now the city’s new mayor.  Of course, this opens a vacancy on the Moorpark City Council.  In the city of Simi Valley, our council would appoint someone to the vacant position, which is what was done when Michelle Foster filled the vacant position left by Paul Miller when he was sworn in as mayor.

I like Michelle Foster a lot, but I didn’t vote for her (well, eventually I did… but not then).  It almost seems undemocratic to elect some members of city council and not others.  Further, I believe Steve Sojka was also appointed when Bill Davis was elected mayor years ago.  Again, I’ve since voted for Sojka many times, but it wasn’t the voters who positioned him as the incumbent on every election since his appointment.

Here’s an article from the Acorn on Moorpark’s handling of the vacant council position:

Eighteen local residents submitted applications to fill a shortterm vacancy on the Moorpark City Council. The deadline to apply was last week. City officials will interview the candidates at a special meeting next Wednesday and select one on Dec. 17.

The interim appointee will replace Councilmember Janice Parvin, who was sworn in as the city’s new mayor on Wednesday, until voters elect a new person to complete her Council term on June 2.

Read more here…

I think that’s a solid, democratic way of handling it, even if a special election (which can be costly) is in order.