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 [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.