Fullerton voters officially recorded their second political upset of the Nov. 6 election with former City Councilwoman Jan Flory defeating short-time incumbent Travis Kiger by just 29 votes.
Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley certified the election returns Nov. 21. The three elected City Council members are Flory, a lawyer; Republican political activist Jennifer Fitzgerald; and incumbent Bruce Whitaker, who received the most votes.
It wasn’t clear over the holidays whether Kiger, whose campaign largely was financed by Fullerton businessman Tony Bushala, would seek a recount. Neither Kiger, who manages technology for an Irvine insurance company, nor Bushala responded to interview requests. Supporters of a candidate seeking a recount have to pay for it, and it can cost several thousand dollars.
Kiger won his seat in June when a recall campaign, financed largely by Bushala, ousted three of the five City Council members. The recall was sparked by the beating death in July 2011 of mentally ill transient Kelly Thomas and by anger over the way then Police Chief Michael Sellers and the council majority handled it.
Sellers ultimately went on medical leave and then retired.
Three officers are accused of felony excessive use of force and other crimes in connection with the death of the 37-year-old Thomas.
The three City Council members who were recalled were strongly criticized for failing to move swiftly to investigate what happened within the Police Department and failing to publicly show compassion.
Kiger’s election loss came on the heels of another major Fullerton-based political upset. Fullerton Mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva, a Democrat, defeated GOP Assemblyman Chris Norby in a North Orange County district that Republicans thought was safe.