For the second time in less than a year, Chino Community Services Commissioner Greg Marquez has brought his city’s municipal board appointment process into question.
In this go-round, he is pressing the city to make explicit the criteria used in making the appointments, while simultaneously seeking to impose term limits on those who volunteer for and are appointed to commission and committee posts, with a possible carryover to who is elected to the city council.
Some question whether his suggestions are earnestly and sincerely made or whether they are intended to advance his own ambition.
On May 16, Marquez called upon the city council to give close scrutiny to the ordinance relating to service on city panels.
Marquez’s request came during an item which dealt with extending the terms of the city’s commissioners and boosting the stipend of the commission on which Marquez is a member. Marquez used the opportunity to suggest that holding commissioners to a certain number of terms might have the effect of getting more civic-minded residents involved with City Hall. The ordinance pertaining to commission and committee appointments was last voted upon in 1990.
The city has been somewhat self-conscious and deliberate with regard to Marquez’s participation in city affairs.
Last July, after Marquez officially filed as a candidate for the District 2 city council slot in the November election, Marquez’s colleague on the Community Services Commission, Brenda Strong, questioned whether Marquez’s position on the commission conferred upon him an advantage in running for office in the city. Thereupon, a subcommittee of the commission, which included Linda Takeuchi, Neal Jerry, and Strong, was tasked with considering if allowing Marquez to maintain his status as a commissioner compromised either the integrity of the commission or the electoral process in Chino. Ultimately, the trio felt it would be best for Marquez’s post to be declared vacant and the city to seek applicants to replace him. Marquez’s term had ended on June 30, 2022, but Mayor Eunice Ulloa had not appointed a replacement, and his time on the commission had been rolled over. Takeuchi, Jerry and Strong informed Marquez that he would be allowed to remain on the commission only until such time as his replacement was chosen. Walt Pocock was appointed by the city council in May 2021 to complete the District 2 council term to which Councilman Mark Hargrove was elected in 2018 following Hargrove’s death. To remain on the council, Pocock needed to vie for election last November. He had, however, opted not to run. Marquez, consequently, found himself vying against Sylvia Orozco and Curtis Burton for the District 2 berth.
As the election season was getting into full gear, Chino residents interested in replacing Marquez on the Community Services Commission were invited to fill out applications by August 19. The commission, which consists of Takeuchi, Jerry, Strong, Marquez, Robert Martinez, Jamie Harwood and Julissa Montenegro-Olivas, were called upon on September 26 to consider the applicants, which included Michelle Ballantyne, Charleen King, Richard Montijo, Jamie Aviles, Armida Garcia, Cecil Howell, David Matza, Stepheno Padilla, and Marquez, who reapplied.
With Takeuchi absent and Marquez not participating in the discussion, the commission considered a recommendation by a committee consisting of Martinez, Harwood and Montenegro-Olivas that Marquez be reappointed. Based upon their evaluation of the applications and interviews of those would-be volunteers, Martinez, Harwood and Montenegro-Olivas recommended that Marquez be reappointed. On September 26, the commission voted 4-to-1, with Jerry, Martinez, Harwood and Montenegro-Olivas prevailing and Strong opposed to make a non-binding recommendation that Marquez be kept in place.
The council did so, and Marquez thus headed into the November election as a member of the commission, even with Strong indicating her concern that Marquez was exploiting his position on the commission to boost his council electoral chances.
In the November 8 election, Burton captured the District 2 post with 2,955 of the 6,079 total votes cast, or 48.61 percent, to Orozco’s 1,632 votes or 26.85 percent and Marquez’s third-place showing, with 1,492 votes or 24.54 percent.
In September, Marquez was a little bit miffed, and he indicated his belief that the reappointment process should have less ambiguity.
In 1990, when the methodology for appointing the Community Services Commission members was settled upon, the members of the city council were elected at large as was the mayor. At present, the mayor is still elected at large, but the four council members now represent a single district and are themselves residents of one district. Each district comprises one fourth of the city.
The way the appointments to the seven-member Public Services Commission are currently made involves six being designated by the mayor and the seventh being selected by the members of the commission, with confirmation by the city council.
Marquez said the selection process should be changed so that each council member makes a selection of someone from his or her district, with the mayor getting two appointments of residents living anywhere in the city.
City Manager Linda Reich reacted by saying the city council could look into changing the process if it deemed doing so would be appropriate. Mayor Ulloa, who last year held off on making an automatic reappointment of Marquez when his term drew to a close and thus created the circumstance in which Strong’s questioning of Marquez’s use of his position on the commission to gain electoral mileage led to the near suspension of his commission membership, did not appear to be too enthusiastic about changing the selection process.
It was left open as to whether the council will act on Marquez’s suggestion.
The city council did up the stipend paid to the Community Services Commission members from $50 per meeting to $125 per meeting, putting them on par with the city’s planning commissioners.
The council also voted to increase commissioners’ terms from three years to four years.