Avoiding Election Expense, Rialto Fills Gap With Hirtz Appointment

RIALTO – Sidestepping a special election that could have cost taxpayers as much as a quarter of a million dollars to hold, the Rialto City Council voted 4-0 on January 28 to appoint Lynn Hirtz to fill the vacant position on the city council that has existed since December.
That void was created after Deborah Robertson was elected mayor in November with two years remaining on the council term she was elected to in 2010.
Robertson defeated incumbent councilman Ed Scott, whose council term elapsed in December, after both vied for the position formerly held by Grace Vargas, who chose not to seek reelection.
As recently as last week, the council was unable to come to a consensus on Robertson’s replacement, when four names, including Hirtz’s were mentioned.  At that time, Councilman Ed Palmer made a motion to appoint Hirtz, who had served on the council in the 1990s. Councilman Shawn O’Connell seconded that motion, but neither councilman Joe Baca, Jr. nor Robertson supported that choice.
Baca then nominated Rafael Trujillo, a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission who had run for council in November but was edged out by Palmer and O’Connell. Robertson seconded that motion but both Palmer and O’Connell refused to endorse Trujillo.
Robertson then nominated Melissa Morrison, who did not garner a second. She then offered Dennis Barton as an alternative candidate, but that motion likewise died for the lack of a second.
The council was under the gun to come up with someone. The council’s authority to appoint a replacement was set to elapse as of February 9, at which point  the election, which would have been likely to cost at least $230,000 and as much as $260,000 in the city with a population of 99,171 would have to be scheduled.
On January 28, the council held a specially-called meeting, at which it considered letters of interest in the appointment submitted by Randy Robbins, Joe Britt, Dennis Barton, Melissa Morrison, Ed Scott, June Hayes, Angel Molina, Dianne Tolbert, Rafael Trujillo and Hirtz.
The council voted unanimously to elevate Hirtz, with Robertson saying she wanted the city’s political leadership to present what she called “a united front.”

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