Politics Magazine

Quartz Hill Council Approves Candidates for Board, Possibly Canceling Election

Posted on the 21 November 2013 by Jim Winburn @civicbeebuzz

QUARTZ HILL – The Town Council at Tuesday’s meeting sought to formally amend its bylaws for its current five-member board, but it instead kept its traditional seven-member arrangement – which may allow the three “uncontested” candidates for December’s election to be automatically seated.

Town Council President Doug Burgis explained to the public at Tuesday’s meeting that the board changed its membership from seven to five members sometime back in 2007.

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“What happened was there were seven members at the time – one had already said he wasn’t going to be a member anymore, and we lost another one that day,” Burgis said.

However, according to Burgis, the change was not properly noted in the bylaws, so the Town Council sought to approve a bylaw amendment Tuesday night to make the correction official.

But Bruce Thomas, treasurer of the council, said he disagreed with making the formal change from seven to five members, “because I feel we should have seven members. I don’t feel that we should have five.”

Councilwoman Pat Hartford agreed, arguing that not enough members of the board have shown up to meetings or events to “get things done.”

“I think we need seven on the board because we’ve had too many events where there’s only a couple of us that show up,” Harford said. “And with seven people, maybe we can get more than two people showing up to an event.”

Public discussion quickly turned to the question of how retaining a seven-member board would affect the upcoming December election – where the public was informed that only two seats were open on the Town Council. Now it was realized that two more seats would be added to the vacancies on the board.

Thomas asked Camillia Jones, a new candidate to the Town Council election, how she felt about being automatically seated to the board – thus, foregoing the whole election process.

“I dont’ have a problem if it’s going to be seven members,” Jones told the council. “I don’t see the point of having an election. It seems it would be a waste of time.”

Thomas then restated his earlier motion for the board’s membership, saying, “My motion is to leave the bylaws the way they are written – with no amendments – at seven members.”

Approving the motion, the council decided there would be no need to hold an election for the now-available four seats (where the race consisted of only three candidates: incumbents Bruce Thomas and Pat Hartford, and newcomer Camillia Jones). However, the board was concerned about the legalities of automatically approving the uncontested candidates for the available seats. [Note: it was quickly discussed that the fourth empty seat could be easily filled with an appointment by the board at a later meeting.]

Jim Spaulding, the Election Committee chairman, told the council that suspending the election would be okay with him, saying, “Whatever you guys want to do is fine with me – if we don’t have an election, that’s fine.”

Thomas suggested that the board make sure that suspending the election – due to an “election by acclamation” – was, in fact, legal.

“The motion is fine, but I want to make sure it’s legal; and the motion should stand providing that someone looks it up and makes sure,” said Thomas, suggesting that Spaulding should consult Robert’s Rules of Order or contact the County of Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder. “It should be verified before it’s put into effect.”

Regarding uncontested elections, a legal assistance site by Adams Kessler PLC at davis-stirling.com, states that if “there is no opposition there is no need for a formal vote. The matter is decided by ‘acclamation’ or by ‘unanimous consent.’ However, unanimous consent or acclamation cannot be used if the bylaws require the election to be by ballot. (Robert’s Rules, 11th ed., p. 443.)”

So according to Adams Kessler PLC, the matter would depend upon the governing bylaws – whether the election is required to be done by balloting, or if the bylaws themselves should be amended to “dispense with balloting in uncontested elections.”

With the presumption that all registered candidates would be seated on the council without an election, the council went ahead with its candidate forum to introduce the candidates to the public.

Camillia Annette Jones, a juvenile probation officer, said she lived in the Antelope Valley all her life and has been a probation officer for 19 years.

“I just wanted to take a more active role in the community,” Jones told members of the public, while making light of the meeting’s complications regarding the election: “I’m excited about this; and no, I’m not scared or deterred by this (night’s meeting).”

Incumbent Bruce Thomas re-introduced himself to everyone, describing the unique experience of public service. “You make friends, you make enemies – you have lively discussions,” he said, then turning his attention to the 20 or so members of the public: “I applaud Cammie on her thoughts of trying to get everyone in here (to attend the meetings). I had a lot of those thoughts, too, when I started.”

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Note: the status of the December election will be updated as information is received by the Bee from Quartz Hill Election Committee Chairman Jim Spaulding. Also, the Quartz Hill Election Committee is scheduled to meet Dec. 7 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Craft Room at George Lane Park, 5520 West Avenue L8 in Quartz Hill; however, this too may depend on the findings of the Election Committee Chairman regarding the election’s status.

The next Town Council meeting is scheduled for Dec. 17 at 6:30 p.m. Contact the Quartz Hill Town Council at 661-208-5417 or at [email protected] More information can be found at facebook.com/qhtowncouncil.


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