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CAMPAIGN 2000 | YORBA LINDA CITY COUNCIL

Christian, Ryan in Tight Fight for Seat to End Impasse

The winner will break a 2-2 split that has delayed, among other things, a decision on the status of the city manager, who's embroiled with city officials in lawsuits.

March 08, 2000|DEEPA BHARATH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Dave Christian and Ken Ryan were locked in a tight battle Tuesday to win the seat that will break a stalemate on the Yorba Linda City Council.

A 2-2 split has made it impossible for the council to decide on matters from paying bills to the question of firing City Manager Arthur C. Simonian.

In fact, a last-minute attempt Tuesday night by Mayor John Gullixson to fire Simonian failed for the third time, again on a 2-2 vote.

Ryan, a city planning commissioner, collected about five times more money than any other candidate, with a campaign chest of $20,287 that included a $5,000 loan he made to his campaign. He was endorsed by the Brea Police Officials Assn. Brea police patrol Yorba Linda as well as their own city.

Christian, an architect, came in second in funding with $3,270 in contributions. He loaned his campaign an additional $2,780 for a total of $6,050. Christian was endorsed by a group of past and present city officials.

Seven candidates were vying for the seat left vacant by Gene Wisner's resignation in September. Since then, the four-member City Council has been hopelessly deadlocked on one of Yorba Linda's most pressing issues: what to do with Simonian.

All candidates agreed that Simonian, who is on paid administrative leave and has denied wrongdoing, should no longer work for the city. But they differed on whether to go for a legal settlement or fight it out in court.

Simonian was fired by the City Council in September for alleged financial malfeasance but was reinstated by a judge who ruled that he had been dismissed improperly.

The city is suing Simonian to recover as much as $300,000 in bonuses he allegedly paid himself without the council's authorization. Simonian, who said the bonuses were permitted under the terms of his contract, has in turn sued the city seeking his job back.

The four-member council has deadlocked consistently on matters related to Simonian. The mayor has failed twice to get the panel to reach a vote to fire the longtime city manager.

Until the matter is resolved, the city will pay his salary and that of Interim City Manager Daniel Miller. Simonian's contract says he cannot be fired fewer than 120 days after an election, and he must receive 90 days' notice before his termination takes effect. Simonian will remain on the city payroll at least until October, based on those terms.

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