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State Race May Leave a Gap to Fill in Diamond Bar


DIAMOND BAR — If City Councilman Paul Horcher wins the 52nd Assembly District seat Tuesday, his fellow council members will be left with the question of how to replace him.

Under state law, a successor must be appointed by the council within 30 days of the vacancy or a special election will automatically be held. However, the law does not specify a method of appointment.

City Manager Robert Van Nort said he plans to present the council with several options when it meets Tuesday night.

Among the possibilities is a process used by the Walnut Valley Unified School District when the school board president resigned in September.

"Each member would submit up to two names. Then the council would interview all those people in an open session in front of everybody, probably in the first week of December," Van Nort said.

Horcher, an attorney, would resign in early December if he wins and would not be allowed to participate in the selection process. He refused last week to comment on a possible successor, who would have to be approved by three of the four remaining council members.

Another option would be to advertise for candidates and interview them individually, Van Nort added.

But Councilwoman Phyllis Papen said she would prefer a special election. "I think that we should go to an election and let people choose," she said. "Representation should be by the vote of the people."

Gary Miller, a former councilman who earlier this year ran unsuccessfully in a special state Senate election and who is widely mentioned as a possible appointee, said an election ensures that the new member will remain independent.

"It precludes any game-playing. You've got a lot of people lobbying and a lot of people who want to be on the council," he said. An election would produce a council member "who votes according to whatever he thinks is right rather than according to (the politics) of the appointment."

A special election would cost the city about $40,000, Van Nort said.

The new member would serve the remainder of Horcher's term, which expires in March, 1992.

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