4/8/19 – City Council Meeting Highlights

Present were: Mayor Christina Shea, and Council Members Farrah Khan, Anthony Kuo, and Melissa Fox, the 4th city council seat is vacant.

Irvine has a new contract agreement with Orange County Fire Authority with enhanced benefits.

City Manager Russo reported that Irvine withdrew from their contract with OCFA because Irvine was paying rates higher than other Orange County cities for fire department services.  Russo reported that Irvine negotiated a new contract which provided service enhancements including: a joint training facility for emergency services, training class rooms, advanced technology program for emergency operations, funding for EMT training, and pension pay down for overfunding cities including Irvine. The new contract was approved 4-0.

No election is planned for filling the vacant city council seat, however if there is no majority vote (3 to 1) on an appointment in 60 days, the City Council will call a special election.

Staff report on the vacancy filling process by Molly McLaughlin, City Clerk. Molly reported that the citizens can petition for a special election with 9,022 verified signatures due 5/3/19. The city council can appoint a city council member to fill the vacancy by calling for applications, statement of economic interests (required), a questionnaire, and an essay.  Molly said that it is up to the city council to determine what they want to include in the application along with the statement of economic interests. According to Molly, the cost of a special election would be between $820,659 and $905,141. Molly also stated that the city council could choose a city council member by ranked voting.  The ranked voting system is not a majority vote.

Kuo listed the Orange County cities that have filled city council vacancies by special election and by appointment.  The majority filled the seats by appointment.

Khan reported that if the city council does not appoint a city council member to fill the vacancy within 60 days, Irvine will be required to hold a special election.

Fox stated that she does not want a ranked system as it is not a majority vote.  Fox proposed appointment by majority vote or special election.

Public Comments: Many commenters requested a special election, some commenters recommended selecting the runner up in the last city council election which is Carrie O’Malley.  Other commenters asked the city council to appoint Lauren Johnson Norris, the second runner up in the last election.  Multiple attorneys spoke to say that it is illegal to fill vacancies by ranked voting as vacancy appointments are required to be majority votes. Motion to base appointment on majority vote from applicants who apply for the position was approved 3-1 with Fox voting no.  Motion to rank applicants and select 4 or 5 top ranked applicants to be voted on by majority vote failed 2-2 with Fox and Khan voting against.

NOTE: Please plan to attend the 4/23 City Council Meeting where the appointment process will be discussed. You can provide input as to how to select the candidates’ appointment to fill the city council vacancy.  The city council meeting will have on the agenda the process for selecting the candidates for city council appointment.