City Attorney Lays Out Council Succession Options

Mayor Joe Mosca

Posted 10/26/11 – At last night’s City Council meeting, the City Attorney spelled out the conditions under which Joe Mosca will be replaced as City Council member.  Mosca’s resignation is effective Nov. 8th, and there will be no action, other than preparatory, taking place before then.

The City Council has the option to appoint someone to fill out Mosca’s term, which runs through April, 2014, or to hold a special election so residents can vote for  his replacement.  An elected candidate would just serve out Mosca’s term, as well.  The idea of appointing someone until the election and then having the election in order to fill out the term is not an option, because Sierra Madre has not enacted an ordinances that would make that possible.  So, if the Council decides to hold a special election in April (the term special here denotes that there is a term being filled on the ballot that would not be in the regular election rotation, the election would be held to coincide with the regular election on April 10, 2012.)  Several members of the community (Colin Braudrick, Faye Angus, Caroline Brown, John Crawford), during the community communication portion of the item, encouraged the council to hold the election in April, noting that an appointed candidate would be perceived negatively in light of the fact they were chosen by members of the council, and not elected in by the people.

Caroline Brown asked if it was possible for the Council to appoint the next highest vote getter from the previous election, as she stated had been done back in the 60s, and the City Attorney noted that if the Council chooses to appoint a new member, there is no rule that prescribes how that is to be done, so Council would have that as an option.  The top non-winning vote getter in the last election, if memory serves, was former council member Don Watts.  Another option might be to solicit candidates for Council just as they do for commissions and committees.

The details from the City Staff report:  According to the Government Code, the Council may, within 60 days from the commencement of the vacancy either a) fill the vacancy by appointment for the remainder of the applicable term or b) call a special election to be held at the next regularly established election date which is not less than 114 days from the call of the special election.

Because, if the Council chooses to call for a special election, there will be nearly five months of meetings with a four person council, Mayor Buchanan asked what effect there might be if an emergency meeting is called that requires a 4/5 vote, would the determination of the whole council be counted against the four seated, or the five the council would be if there was no vacancy.  Council advised him that it would be counted against the four seated, meaning that in the event of an emergency meeting to approve something that requires a supermajority, the council would have to vote unanimously to approve the item.