How should a new council member be selected for District 4?

With Ventura councilman Erik Nasarenko being appointed as Ventura County’s District Attorney is became necessary for the city council to decide how to select a new council member.

During its City Council meeting on February 1, 2021, the Ventura City Council approved an appointment process to fill the District 4 vacancy. The Council voted to accept applications to fill the vacancy by appointment under Section 705(c) of the Charter.

Breeze reader Lynn Arneill-Brown stated “The city council voted to appoint a council member as opposed to allowing District 4 citizens to vote. It’s an important issue because District 4 specifically said they wanted the vote. The entire citizenry of District 4 are incredibly disenfranchised by what has happened. “

City Manager Alex McIntyre explained “The Charter outlines how to fill a vacant council seat. Council has the authority to fill it by appointment if it decides to do so. Also, the estimated cost of the election is at $89,000 plus additional costs. Total estimate is $100,000.”

The City Council’s options to fill the vacancy are controlled by the following:

If a vacancy occurs on the Council, the date upon which such vacancy occurred shall be

determined as soon as possible by the Mayor in accordance with the provisions of this Charter relating to vacancies. Within 30 days after such determination, or within 60 days

after the vacancy occurred, whichever is first, the Council by majority vote of the remaining members, shall appoint a person to the vacant office to serve until his successor is

elected at the next succeeding municipal election and qualifies. If the Council fails to fill the vacancy by appointment as provided herein, it shall forthwith order a

special election to be held to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the unexpired term. However, no such special election need be ordered if the vacancy occurs less than eight months before a municipal election.

Four of the six remaining councilmembers chose to move forward with appointing someone to fill the vacancy. Two council members, Jim Friedman and Doug Halter voted against the move, saying they wanted the decision to be made by the District 4 voters.

The council had the option to leave the post vacant until a special election could be held in November. Not appointing someone to fill the seat would mean District 4 would go nearly a year without a representative on the council.

“To me, the residents from District 4 have clearly spoken. They want a voice based on their vote not ours,” Friedman said.

If a special election could be held sooner than November councilmembers said they would have supported that choice. The rules, however, only allowed for special elections in March or November in 2021. Since any election must be called at least 88 days beforehand, no dates in March would be available.

On February 18, the East Ventura Community Council meeting (see events) will consist of a Candidate Forum in which those persons interested in being appointed to the newly vacant District 4 City Council position will have the opportunity to introduce themselves and answer questions.

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