Political Appointments in Simi Valley Should End

Both Michelle Foster and Steve Sojka were appointed to the Simi Valley City Council to fill empty seats outside of an election cycle. I have nothing against Michelle Foster or Steve Sojka and believe both have served the community well. However, I would like to bring an abrupt end to the political appointment process and put the selection of ALL City Council members back in the hands of voters.

Two years ago, I made reference to a special election in Moorpark that took place to fill an empty City Council seat.  The seat was vacant after a sitting Councilmember, Janice Parvin, was elected Mayor of Moorpark. The process involved appointing an interim Councilmember to fill the vacant seat until the election could be organized and executed, resulting in a new permanent Councilmember elected by Moorpark voters. Without a doubt in my mind, I firmly believe this is how it should be handled in Simi Valley.

If you consider the upcoming ballot for Simi Valley voters, it’s hard to say at this point whether or not there will be a vacant seat on the City Council. Though both campaigns for Mayor are in full swing, I have yet to identify a front-runner. I suspect that as both candidates begin to focus more on the issues, we’ll see voter reactions and get a clearer picture. Suppose, however, that Councilmember Sojka is victorious in his bid for Mayor. The current procedure would be for the Council to appoint someone to fill the vacancy, and Simi Valley voters won’t have a say.

I plan to follow-up with the City to find out what we need to do to put these choices back in the hands of Simi Valley voters. I personally feel like I would be a shameless hypocrite if I didn’t put forth some effort to change that policy. The purpose of this website is to celebrate free speech and democracy, after all! And while you may trust the judgment of the City Council, I’m pretty comfortable with my own judgment as well.

I am curious to know who supports this idea, so please leave some comments so we can discuss.

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Comments

  1. Brian says:

    Mike,

    I fully support ending this practice. Do you know anyone that has the knowledge needed to write a ballot initiative? I will help gather signatures.

  2. Tom R says:

    This is something that has been going on WAY too long!! it completely subvertsdemocracy by giving the “chosen” ones a leg up at re-elcetion time. I couldn’t agree more with you Mike. Moorpark did it right and we should follow suit. Count me in on your signature list.

  3. Brian,

    Thank you. I’ve already begun researching the issue. I should have more information tomorrow, but I will definitely follow-up with you directly.

  4. Paul says:

    I believe the most compelling argument against appointments that later are able to run as imcumbents is evidenced in the 2006 election cyle when Michelle Foster ran unopposed as has Sojka in the past. It is a very daunting task to take on an emcumbent with name ID, money and established connections to the power players. Obviously we would see many more qualified candidates if there were an open seat and the playing field was level. We all lose when we create a system of cronyism and thats exactly what we have.

  5. Pete says:

    I agree with this too. I vote for Sojka and Foster consistently and would have voted in a special election I wish I had the chance to do that and it it turns out that Sojka is mayor it would be good to have a choice. Count me in.

  6. Pete says:

    I would like to know more about costs of a special election if that is the issue for why it isn’t being done now. Do you know what it costs the city of Moorpark?

  7. cronyism? says:

    Would you call getting things done, like balancing a budget in the most difficult budgetary times in memory, cronyism? LOL! You’re gonna have try harder than that.

  8. Hi Pete,

    A special election can be costly. It has the potential to exceed $100K.

  9. I agree on questioning “cronyism.” This has less to do with being dissatisfied with the sitting Councilmembers and more about allowing voters to choose, at least for me.

  10. PJ says:

    this is a comlete slam on the council members and has nothing to do with democracy or rocking the vote or…… if your girlfriend williamson was appointed you wouldn’t even be talking about this.

  11. James says:

    Its always about cost, if it was up to city hall they would probably always do a special election, but it is an issue if it costs more then $100K. I’m all for it if its not a financial drain.

  12. My girlfriend, not yours says:

    Chandler is dating Williamson? Thats hot!

  13. Pete says:

    Where did you get the info on the $100k cost?

  14. barbra Williamson says:

    PJ…I don’t know if that’s a compliment or not! However, I can asure all of you Mr. Chandler and I are NOT dating…
    Sojka has never run unopposed. How do I know this? Because both Sojka and I run at the same time and I have never had a “free” ride.
    I will and can agree with most of the posts tonight, and I tell you hear and now, I will never again support appointing another open seat on the council. I decided this the last time we chose to appoint, and it was a money issue, however, after careful consideration I decided I would not support this action again.
    It is my understanding the cost of a special election is around $50,000 but it could be a little higher.

  15. Keith Mashburn says:

    I am against appointments and would not consider accepting one if offered. An alternative may be to appoint someone who can not and will not run at the end of the appointed term. This action may save the city some of our taxpayer money.

  16. The Shadow Knows says:

    Oh thank god. I was scared you would accept the offer Mr. Mashburn…like that would happen when pigs fly

  17. Barbra Williamson says:

    Ted..don’t keep us in suspense, I would love to hear the short list.

  18. Mitch Green says:

    While I may be coming late to this thread, I agree wholeheartedly in ending the appointment process in favor of special elections.

    I too have heard of the “short list” of candidates for appointment and if what I hear is true, the front runner is indeed a great guy. However, I have a problem with the people’s choice being reduced to 4 votes (the appointment process) rather than letting the constituents make their choice on election day.

    Mitch Green
    Candidate, Simi Valley City Council

  19. Ted says:

    Barbra,

    The fact that there is a possibility of a short list is the whole problem in a nut shell. It goes back to the “King Maker” problem that appointments create.

    Thankfully we don’t have a payroll problem or 2929 Tapo Canyon Road might start looking like the news reports in Bell.

  20. Sedell soldier says:

    There very much is a short list and the frontrunner is Tim Shannon. Ted you are right. This is a disgrace. Just like when Michelle Foster was on the top of the kingmakers list. The worst part is that one of our council members admitted that ” we need to be able to work with them”. They don’t even think there is anything wrong with it. It’s an assault on democracy.

    Barbra and Mitch, I think you should lead the way by calling on ALL candidates to sign a pledge of NO appointments as of now!

    Mike, your onto something here. Keep digging and you might be surprised at what you find.

  21. The Shadow Knows says:

    If, and I do mean if, there is a “short list” for appointment, it’s probably coming from the morning Rotary Club. They seem to have all the movers and shakers…so to speak….
    See I think it’s important to put the names out there, so we/you can say, “see, I told you so” and perhaps it will divert them actually going the appointment route. What say you?

  22. 3.14 says:

    We don’t need special elections either. Just appoint someone that won’t run again. A retired council member that served honorably would do just fine. The government shouldn’t be able to choose their own successors without input from the public.

    Sure they have to run for office. But an incumbent can lock up a formidable amount of special interest money and appoint potential challenges to influential committees.

    I think the council has done a decent job the last few years but I don’t believe the best 5 citizens for the job in the entire city currently is on the city council.

    What do these people have against competitive elections with people of different views? Maybe if we had elections they would have to take very specific positions.

  23. 3.14 says:

    Before anyone brings up special elections why don’t we look at what Moorpark does? They appoint someone to fill the position until the next election. Then that person doesn’t run again. They don’t pay for special elections or appoint incumbents that run using the power of being on the city council.

    An open council seat election isn’t the same as a powerful position at the state or federal level. Most voters cannot name the entire council or explain the differences in positions of the candidates. Especially because they don’t take clear positions when they aren’t forced to in an election.

    Quick. Which of the current council members supports:

    1. Expanding the landfill
    2. Changing how the library operates
    3. Increasing the total size of the police force
    4. Bringing DARE back
    5. The Sinaloa Project before it was minimized.

    Almost none of them have public positions on issues of obvious public importance.

  24. Ted says:

    Hey I am the only guy around here who is not anonymous. Take off your costume and belly up to the bar. It is pretty easy to take pot-shots hiding behind a keyboard. 😉

    Unless you can see my facial expression or hear my tone of voice when I type then jumping to conclusions is not a productive practice.

    Attacking Ted wont fix anything. I am not sure how to change what I type to come across like a bar of Dove Soap?

    I have a different perspective in this city. Is it wrong because you don’t agree with me?

    The difference here is that I have direct daily interaction with the business owners in this town. I know and hear directly what they face each day. I have had the experience in dealing with the city building department and watched what they did to my father when he tried to get his projects approved.

    I have had plenty of positive things to say and I have provided what I think we can do different to help make things better in this town.

    Being critical of the Shop Simi First Campaign and the Appointment process is not negative. What is this country coming to if we cannot be critical or ask questions?

    I am actually enjoying this the race for Mayor, it may turn into a discussion about Ted Mackel’s positions on city policy. This would be good for this city since that way we might actually talk about something of substance.

  25. James W says:

    Did someone say illegal immigration? Amen. It’s time to elect Bob Huber so we can go after all the illegals draining the resources in our community (and beyond). Go Bob!

  26. Ferris says:

    @TKS Your beliefs about others lead you to think the way you do because you relate them to your own beliefs, overall lack of achievement and many failures.

  27. Barbra Willliamson says:

    Amen Mike C!

  28. Ferris says:

    FWIW, Some of us are cache/capturing the comments on this website. It is stunning to see the moderator and councilperson ignore inappropriate comments about Mashburn, Mackel, Green, Dantona Sr, and others made by certain posters. The thread creep is dismaying. This website will lose activity if posters cannot remain civil.

  29. Ferris, cache my website. I have nothing to hide. Regarding these remarks, I received a private message from one of the targets of these comments and I’ll be more diligent about it going forward. It’s important to me that we discuss the issues and not get distracted by the miniature brawls in these comments. How it went from political appointments to hurling insults escapes me completely.

  30. Barbra Williamson says:

    Gee Ferris, What would you have me say about Mr. Green, Mashburn, Dantona, Sr. and/or Mackel? Seems if you just ignore the radicals they will go away. To defend of make comments only fuel the situation. Besides, they surely don’t’ need me to defend them, do they?

  31. Ferris says:

    Councilwoman Williamson,

    The attacks have been escalating in the silence. 3 or 4 individuals were personally attacked on the Mashburn post. It is growing over here. We are no longer talking about the city appointment policy.

    Please assert your dislike when you see ad hominem attacks. Don’t allow your opinions to be stacked above and below those types of posts, just saying.

  32. Ferris,

    Aim those crosshairs at me. No one should expect Councilwoman Williamson to dignify those comments.

  33. James W. says:

    These are the big controversal comments? Wow step back.

  34. Ken Sandberg says:

    Since there is an election, why not consider appointing the person who got the third highest votes instead of some person selected in secret by the City Council? An election would be best, but it is expensive, not only to hold the election, but for those who are running. The Ballot Statement is not free, it currently costs $950.