Resigned Councilman’s Timing To Cost Chino Hills $135,0000

(September 28)  CHINO HILLS—The timing of councilman Wilburn “Bill” Kruger’s resignation, combined with other factors, has necessitated a special election that will cost Chino Hills taxpayers $135,000.
Had Kruger delayed his resignation by another 40 days, the council would have had the option of appointing his replacement. Because he tendered his letter of resignation on September 4, however, and because two of the currently serving members of the council are serving in an appointed rather than an elected capacity, an election to replace him must be held.
Under California’s election code and the municipal regulations for general law cities throughout the state, following the resignation of a council member a city council normally has three options: appoint a replacement for the remainder of the official’s term, hold a special election, or appoint an interim replacement to serve until a special election is held. The law specifies a 60-day deadline for the council to commit to one of those options.
Another law, however, prohibits a governing panel such as a city council from being composed of a majority of appointed rather than elected members. In the run-up to the 2008 election Art Bennett and Gwenn Norton-Perry were the only candidates who had qualified to compete in the November election. The council cancelled the election and appointed them both to the council that August. Thus, for the council to now appoint Kruger’s replacement would result in three members being appointed.
The city does not have the option of waiting until after the November election to make the appointment because Kruger resigned on September 4, necessitating that the appointment be made by November 3. The winners of the upcoming November race, in which Bennett is running and Norton-Perry is not, will not be sworn into office until December.
The city council on September 25 voted to hold a mail ballot special election in March involving all 36,512 of the city’s voters, the estimated cost of which is $135,000.
At press time, Chino Hills city attorney Mark Hensley had not responded to a Sentinel inquiry as to whether the council will have the option of cancelling the election in December and making an appointment at that time.

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