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By Allison Jarrell
At the San Juan Capistrano City Council’s Jan. 20 meeting, councilmember and former mayor Roy Byrnes announced his intent to retire from the dais. Following that announcement, the decision was made at the council’s Feb. 3 meeting to expedite the replacement process by appointing a resident to fill the vacancy on Feb. 10.
The City Council was faced with three options for replacing Byrnes at Tuesday’s meeting: appoint a resident to fill the vacancy within 60 days, call a special election to be held no less than 114 days from the decision, or make an interim appointment until the next election. Byrnes’ resignation marks the eighth time there has been such a vacancy on the council, according to city staff. In past cases, the council has chosen twice to appoint an interim council member. The five other replacements were all appointed.
The council voted unanimously to make an appointment that will serve until the 2016 race, and Mayor Derek Reeve requested that the process be expedited with an application deadline of Friday, Feb. 6 and an appointment made at a council meeting on Feb. 10. The motion passed 3-1, with Byrnes recusing himself from the discussion and vote and councilmember Sam Allevato objecting to the accelerated schedule.
Allevato said the deadline was too “aggressive” and that “some people may not get the word in two days.”
“If you’re going to be a City Council member, chances are you know what’s going on,” Reeve said in response to Allevato’s concerns. “As a council member, you’re doing a lot of work on a quick basis. So for me, it’s almost a job interview to get your application in on time.”
As for the process for selecting a new council member, Reeve presented three options Monday night: conducting a public interview, forming an appointment subcommittee or presenting the choices on Feb. 10 and hashing it out themselves. The council voted unanimously for the first option, allowing the candidates to make three-minute presentations at the beginning of public comment on Feb. 10 before making a decision. Council members will also be able to ask clarifying questions of each candidate.
While it wasn’t the intent of the council to discuss possible choices for the vacant seat on Monday night, the majority of residents who spoke during public comment voiced their opinions on the subject, and most of the letters sent to the council also included specific candidates. While some asked for a new voice on the council, others pulled for incumbent Larry Kramer or architect Rob Williams, both of whom lost in the November 2014 election. With 2,788 votes, Kramer was the fourth highest vote getter and lost reelection by 902 votes to councilmember Kerry Ferguson. After incumbent John Taylor, Williams placed sixth in the running with 2,528 votes.
Application forms are available at the City Clerk’s office, located at 32400 Paseo Adelanto, San Juan Capistrano, on the city’s website at sanjuancapistrano.org or by calling 949.493.1171. Completed forms will be accepted at the same office until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 6. Questions concerning the vacancy may be directed to City Clerk Maria Morris at 949.443.6309 or firstname.lastname@example.org.