Mary Ann Gaido, who successfully sued the city to fill a vacancy on the City Council, was officially denied a council seat Thursday.
Meeting in special session, the City Council instead voted to proceed with a Nov. 6 special election to fill the vacancy and to appeal a court order that says Gaido should take office.
Some observers said the decision to block Gaido from filling the vacancy created by Sally Anne Sheridan's elevation to mayor suggests a political backlash against those associated with former Mayor Larry Agran.
"It's all coming down to partisan politics, when we should be concentrating on local issues," said Councilwoman Paula Werner, the lone dissenter in a 3-1 vote to proceed with the special election.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday September 11, 1990 Orange County Edition Metro Part B Page 2 Column 5 Metro Desk 2 inches; 49 words Type of Material: Correction
Irvine--Irvine Councilwoman Paula Werner was quoted out of context in a story Friday. Werner's comment, "It's all coming down to partisan politics, when we should be concentrating on local issues," did not refer to the controversy over seating Mary Ann Gaido on the council but to Measure F, which seeks to move city elections from June to November.
The vote to keep the special election came minutes before the registrar of voters' 5 p.m. deadline to pull items from the Nov. 6 ballot before it goes to press.
Werner and Gaido supporters charged that the council's action derails the healing process Sheridan spoke of during and after the bitterly fought June 5 mayoral race. Instead, they said, the action simply prolongs divisiveness created by an election that pitted Sheridan's conservative slate of new Councilmen Barry J. Hammond and Willam A. (Art) Bloomer against a liberal slate of Agran, Gaido and defeated Councilman Cameron Cosgrove.
"I find the entire situation appalling," said Charlene Turco, a member of the city's Community Services Commission. "The new council said it was going to put all this behind us and get back in the business of running a city. I haven't seen them do that. Instead, we're all a party to playing games, and Irvine is becoming the land of litigation."
Cosgrove, who failed to win reelection in June, said the new council "is exerting its pound of flesh" in an attempt to gain a four-member majority through the election.
"This is to be expected," Gaido said of the council's decision to allow five candidates to run for the vacant council seat in November. "There is animosity there (toward Agran) that is being transferred to me."
Sheridan, however, said the problems surrounding complicated city election laws are the result of inaction by previous, Agran-led councils.
"This is not an effort to get even," Sheridan said. "This is an effort to resolve the festering sores of the Agran legacy."
Gaido's attorney, Christopher Mears, said that he, too, plans to take Gaido's plight to the court of appeals. Shortly before the council's vote, Orange County Superior Court Judge Eileen C. Moore declined to issue an order that Gaido be seated on the council immediately, saying she believed it was outside her jurisdiction, Mears said.
Last Friday, Moore ruled in favor of Gaido, but her decision has been temporarily overridden by a notice of appeal filed that day by the city attorney, said City Manager Paul O. Brady.
Councilman Hammond said he is simply trying to preserve the petition process approved by voters in a 1988 initiative known as Measure D. Under Measure D, the remaining term of a council member who is elected mayor would be filled by the third-highest vote-getter in the council election, unless 7% of the city's registered voters petition for a special election.
Gaido was the third-highest vote-getter in the June 5 election.
Two candidates in the November special election, Albert Nasser and Carol Yocum, told the council Thursday that they would rather see Gaido seated. Gaido, however, did not file as a candidate in the special election because she believed she would prevail in court.