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Local News

Solvang Council to Meet Friday Night In Latest Attempt to Fill Empty Seat

Another meeting filled with a series of deadlocked votes and failed motions means the Solvang City Council will gather at 6 p.m. Friday to again try to fill its vacant seat.

Tuesday’s meeting included more divided votes as the council grapples with how to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Hans Duus, who moved to Santa Maria. 

The council has until Oct. 27 to either fill the seat by appointment or call a special election, which would cost between $6,000 and $28,800.

But the four remaining council members have split — Mayor Jim Richardson and Councilwoman Joan Jamison against Councilmen Ryan Toussaint and Neill Zimmerman — on whether to follow a previously adopted protocol to appoint the runner-up in the most recent election.

The other alternative would involve soliciting applications from candidates.

The runner-up from the November 2016 election, Karen Waite, just missed winning a seat by a handful of votes, and has said she would still like the job. 

Several speakers urged the council to “do the right thing” and supported following the protocol. 

“This whole issue to me is not about a person or a group of people,” Duus said. “It’s about a principle, a protocol, a policy, whatever you want to call it. It’s about good government.”

One resident, Shirley Stacy, suggested having an experienced outsider interview candidates and select a finalist to end the stalemate.

But it wasn’t clear how the divided council would agree on an impartial person to recommend someone from the field of interested candidates.

Motions to follow the existing protocol, to take applications or solicit candidates from planning commission, parks and recreation commission or the board of architectural review all failed.

“I’ll make the motion to draw from a hat,” Councilman Neill Zimmerman said at one point, not clarifying what names would be included in that drawing.

“Is there a second to the motion that we draw an applicant from the hat,” Mayor Jim Richardson asked. “There is no second to that motion. That motion fails.”

Friday’s meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in council chambers, 1644 Oak St.

A regularly scheduled meeting is planned for 6:30 p.m. Monday and also will include an agenda item about filling the vacancy in case Friday's effort ends with a stalemate.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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