Residency Complaint On Westminster Councilwoman Prompts Policy Change

Applicants who want to serve on a Westminster city commission or committee will now be screened to make sure they live in the city – a change prompted in part by complaints about whether newly elected Councilwoman Kimberly Ho lived in Westminster during her tenure on the Planning and Traffic Commissions.

A complaint filed with the city on Oct. 28 requested that California Attorney General Kamala Harris conduct any investigation Ho’s residency, claiming that District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who endorsed Ho and administered her oath of office, has a conflict of interest.

Ho served on the Planning Commission between 2009 and 2014 and was appointed to the Traffic Commission in February 2016.

During her time on the Planning Commission, Ho was registered to vote at two addresses in Huntington Beach and Yorba Linda. She did not change her registration to a Westminster apartment until March 2016, about a month after she was appointed to the Traffic Commission.

Her Yorba Linda address was also listed on debt paperwork that was signed in April 2016 and filed with the county Clerk-Recorder’s office.

“…Every one of her votes should be reviewed, because since she was not a member of the Westminster community, then what’s her true motive to obtain a position on the traffic and planning commission?” the complaint reads.

Asked to comment on the complaint, Ho said the allegations were not true at all and that she and her husband had simply forgotten to update their voter registrations.

“I just completely forgot,” Ho said. “It just didn’t dawn on us until my husband, who does the change of address, he usually does that and so we thought the other had done it.”

Former Councilwoman Diana Carey, who lost her seat to Ho, requested that staff begin verifying the residency of applicants for commissions on Dec. 8, the last meeting before the new City Council was sworn in.

Council members voted 4-0, with Councilman Sergio Contreras absent, to implement the verification process.

Although Carey didn’t mention the complaint about at the meeting, she told a reporter weeks earlier that, after learning about the complaint, she would push for the council to change the rules.

The vote comes after a heated election in which Ho joined councilmen Tyler Diep and Tri Ta to form an ideologically conservative voting bloc.

Ho was appointed to both the Planning and Traffic Commissioned by Diep.

Brenda Gonzalez, press secretary for Harris, said the AG’s office has received the complaint but did not comment on whether it would investigate the claims.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated Ho was the top vote-getter in the November 2016 election. Sergio Contreras was the top vote getter with 29 percent, while Ho came in second with 25.7 percent.

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

  • Roger Butow

    Shirley:
    I don’t even live there but I’m outraged…..What didn’t the DA know and when didn’t he know it?
    How does this guy stay in office, un-investigated? Teflon? Knows where the bodies are buried?
    Worser (thanks Keith Olbermann), is that Sheriff Hutchens endorsed her too…..why are these supposedly nonpartisan, high profile and extremely powerful Repubs abusing their discretionary powers?
    This is a prime example of a subject (election reform) long past its over-due date.
    That former Councilwoman Carey got them to create a verification process AFTER the election is tantamount to closing the barn door AFTER the horse is out.
    We play a game, pretend these offices/candidates are in non-partisan races….when they are. Any elected or appointed official should be enjoined, forbidden from endorsing—this isn’t a 1st amendment issue, that’s BS & disingenuous——-it’s tilting the playing field, the thumb of big $$$ & power on the scale. If that’s not corruption, what is?
    Res Ipsa Loquitor.

    • Greg Diamond

      Why do the DA and Sheriff endorse in local elections? It’s called “party before principle” — although in this case the corruption transcends party.

      Racky has got to go — and without being replaced by his attack dog Kang.

  • Shirley L. Grindle

    Just another example of the failure of DA Tony Rackauckas to even investigate, let alone prosecute, alleged violations of State and local campaign laws. FIrst of all, the District Attorney has no business endorsing any candidates in Orange County as it creates a conflict of interest on his part. A competent and honorable DA would already know this and stay out of local campaigns.

  • Roger Butow

    Oh, yeah, my dog ate my homework……..She should be removed, should never have been seated because this was a very well known situation BEFORE the election.
    She bragged that she was generating hundreds of thousands for this campaign, basically bought her seat—–and there was a lot of soft money, ca$h/dark money, unaccounted for and difficult to track/trace…….this is why the State needs to intervene, everything that challenges the OC legal community needs outside oversight.
    Our DA is part of the bias and favor-trading that OC politicos abuse constantly…that’s a fact Jack!
    The aptly named Mrs. Ho voted in Yorba Linda, so her lame excuses don’t stand the smell test.
    A true carpetbagger.