Seat on Avalon City Council remains vacant

It is still unclear at this point how the council will fill the seat left vacant by Richard Hernandez’s resignation.

AVALON—More than one month after Avalon City Council member Richard Hernandez resigned, his seat on the council remains empty. City Clerk Denise Radde delivered the news Hernandez had resigned shortly after roll call at the city council meeting on July 16.

Radde read Hernandez’s resignation letter at the Aug. 6 council meeting. In that letter, Hernandez said, “Dear Denise, it is with a strong feeling of regret I find that for personal reasons I must submit this letter of resignation as a member of the City Council effective immediately.  I thank you for your support over the years in my role and I wish you, the Mayor, and the councilmembers every success, as they move forward.”

Hernandez, as of Aug. 19, had not return calls from The Log, which were made on Aug. 8 and Aug. 15; each call was made to seek comment on the reason for his resignation.

The council did not discuss plans for how to fill the vacant seat during the Aug. 6 meeting. A discussion about filling the vacant seat was not on the Aug. 20 agenda. Radde, at the July 16 council meeting, stated the city would discuss next steps “in the near future.” In an email, she said she anticipates the item will be on the agenda for the Sept. 3 City Council meeting.

This is the second change to hit the council in recent months. The council was faced with the tough loss of Councilmember Pam Albers, who died suddenly in May. On June 18, the council voted 3-1 to appoint Steve Hoefs to the seat vacated by Albers, with the no vote coming from Hernandez. Hoefs was sworn in on July 2.

Hoefs was one of six people who expressed interest in filling the seat. He is a retired fire chief and past Avalon city manager. Hoefs ran against Albers in the 2018 election and received only 16 less votes.

Per the State of California Government Code, the council has 60 days from the day the seat was vacated to determine how to fill it. According to City Attorney Scott Campbell, if the city does not fill the seat by that deadline, they could be forced to take action through a lawsuit. Radde said they have two options: they can appoint a new member or call a special election.

The council contemplated the same two options for filling Albers seat. During that discussion on June 4, Radde estimated that a stand-alone special election would cost taxpayers about $50,000. She said they have 114 days to hold that election. The next local election is March 3, 2020.

City Council members Cinde MacGugan-Cassidy and Oley Olsen and Mayor Ann Marshall did not respond to emails asking about for input of filling the seat. The Log will continue to monitor any developments related to filling the City Council seat.

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