The City Council will consider an interim appointment to fill the seat vacated by Kansen Chu, who was elected to the state Assembly. But the motion drew criticism for being too hurried and for waiving sunshine rules.
Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilman/Mayor-elect Sam Liccardo support former councilwoman Margie Matthews for the District 4 seat. But council members Don Rocha and Ash Kalra say the process was rushed and that the city should wait until after the holidays to make a decision.
“Choosing the people's representative is one of the most important decisions that we can make in a democracy, but in this case we have been given extremely short notice of the decision and have made no effort to engage the public,” Rocha wrote in his memo. “If there were some urgent need to make this appointment I might feel differently, but I don't see that need. There are many past instances where the Council hasn't appointed anyone in advance of a special election. Why is this instance so different?”
He included a timeline to illustrate how short the notice has been:
Rocha also noted that Matthews was listed on Liccardo’s campaign website as a supporter and that the appointment looks like an attempt to stack the council in his favor. With Chu’s seat vacated, the council would be more likely to end up with tied votes. And an election won’t be held until April 7, with the winner unlikely to take office until August before finishing the term at the end of 2016.
“I can appreciate the desire of any mayor to command a council majority,” Rocha continued. “The power of appointment, however, is not the tool to make that happen. The only reason Mayor-Elect Liccardo would need to worry about the Council deadlocking 5-5 over the next nine months is if he isn't willing to work collaboratively with his colleagues. I hope that's not the case.”
According to the Reed-Liccardo memo, Matthews served two terms on the council (back when her surname was Fernandez), from 1993 to 2000 and lived in the Berryessa district for 40 years. She was policy advisor for Susan Hammer during her tenure as District 3 councilwoman and later as mayor. (UPDATE: Liccardo authored a memo Monday asking the City Clerk to continue accepting applications for the appointment through 5pm Thursday, so a special meeting can be held Friday.)
To comply with CalPERS requirements for retired public employees, she wouldn’t accept a council salary if appointed. Liccard and Reed's memo also says Matthews wouldn't run in the special election for the district.
More from the San Jose City Council agenda for December 16, 2014:
- San Jose is set to pay $1.1 million to a man left paralyzed from the chest down after falling off his bike at a city park 10 years ago. Alex Ghenis was 16 when he rode his BMX bike over a dirt jump at Calabazas Park and crash-landed on his head, leaving him quadriplegic.
- To recover costs from administering its new marijuana regulations, the city plans to charge an annual $72,000 fee to each pot club, in addition to other fees.
- Council members may update the General Plan, the city's lead planning document, to require that 15 percent of new housing be affordable to low-income residents.
WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260