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Council Delays Vote on How to Fill Vacancy : Government: In wake of Montgomery's resignation, a number of potential candidates have surfaced.

October 19, 1995|SCOTT HADLY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

MOORPARK — With the names of planning commissioners, former council members and others floating about as possible candidates to replace Councilman Scott Montgomery, who resigned last week, the Moorpark City Council voted Wednesday night to wait a week before discussing how to fill the vacancy.

The council has the option to appoint someone to the vacancy created Oct. 12 when Montgomery, 42, pleaded guilty to a felony conflict-of-interest charge and a misdemeanor conflict-of-interest charge.

The appointee would serve until a city election to be scheduled at the same time as the statewide primary in March.

The council could also leave the post vacant until that election. Whoever wins at that time would serve the remaining months of Montgomery's term, which expires in November, 1996. Another election for a full four-year term would follow.

The terms of Mayor Paul Lawrason and Councilman Pat Hunter also expire next fall.

If the council decides to make an appointment, it would have to be before Nov. 11, which is 30 days after Montgomery's resignation.

"We don't have a whole lot of time here," Councilman John Wozniak said. "We need to give people interested in the appointment time to make themselves known."

Although none of the remaining four council members wanted to suggest candidate names, several residents have taken it upon themselves to notify the council of their interest in an appointment.

Michael Wesner, who served as chairman of the Planning Commission for four years, said Wednesday that two days after Montgomery's resignation, he called Lawrason "and asked him to consider me. I also told him I was interested in running in the special election in March and in November."

Wesner, 46, served on the commission from 1990 until late 1994, but chose not to stay on after taking a job that had him regularly traveling outside the state. He has since taken a position as a legal cost consultant in Los Angeles, and said he was more able to meet the time commitment of serving on the council.

Montgomery's resignation caught Wesner flat-footed, he said. But because he wants to run for City Council next fall, Wesner said he felt that the appointment would help his chances in both the March and November elections.

"I know there is a lot of interest out there, mostly from the usual suspects," he said.

City sources said some of the possible appointees for the open council seat include former council members Roy Talley and Eloise Brown, and several members of the Planning Commission, including Ted Martins, Christina May and Ernesto Acosta.

Talley, 47, manager of an electronics company, served on the council between 1990 and 1992, completing Lawrason's term after he was elected mayor.

Talley said Wednesday that he was definitely interested in an appointment and is already considering running in November, 1996.

Brown, 74, was a councilwoman from 1986 to 1990. She said she did not think that an appointment was likely but said she would serve if asked. However, she added that she was not interested in running in either March or November.

Martins, 39, a CPA, said he would be interested in serving on the council but was not actively seeking an appointment. He said he was also considering a run for the council next fall.

Acosta, a 39-year-old lawyer, said he wanted to serve the remaining three years of his commission term, but would consider a council appointment if it was offered.

May could not be reach for comment.

Several other names have been mentioned for possible appointment, including Chamber of Commerce President Debbie Rodgers-Teasley, 44; Dee Talley, 47, Roy Talley's wife, and Linda Plaks, 50, who served on Lawrason's campaign committee and until recently operated a video store in the city.

Plaks and Talley could not be reached for comment, but Teasley said she was interested in the vacated position.

The chamber has set up a political action committee to find a candidate for appointment who would run for election in March and November, Rodgers-Teasley said.

"We feel the business community needs to be represented on the council," she added.

Rodgers-Teasley said that with important issues coming before the council, it was important to quickly find someone to fill the vacancy. She expected the names of even more possible candidates to surface within the next week.

But some council members said they were ambivalent about making an appointment, saying that whoever serves on the council should do so by a vote of the people. Wozniak and Hunter said they might vote against appointing anyone.

"I just don't know which way I want to go right now," Wozniak said before Wednesday's meeting. "The question is: Do we really need to do that? And how are people going to react if we do? The way these things work, you tend to be appointing someone who you know will vote your way, which may or may not be a good idea."

During last year's election, after no outside candidates came forward to challenge incumbents Wozniak, Lawrason or Bernardo Perez, the full council opted to appoint the three and save the city the estimated $4,500 cost of an election. Although the move saved the city money, it made many residents angry that they were not allowed to vote.

Although Hunter and Wozniak both worried that another appointment would send the wrong message, both said they wanted to wait until next week's discussion before making a final decision.

The Municipal Code requires that the council attempt to appoint someone within 30 days of any council vacancy, but if a candidate is not approved by a majority of the council, the seat can be left unfilled until an election can be scheduled.

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