Sayre: Questions For Irvine City Council Vacancy Applicants

On April 23, 2019, The Irvine City Council voted to fill their City Council Vacancy by City Council appointment from a list of applicants rather than by Special election.

Applications are available on the City of Irvine website.  Completed applications must be received by May 3, 2019.

Each of the 4 current City Council members will select 4 applicants for a total of 16. On May 9 the City Clerk will post the selected list of applicants on the city website. During the May 14 City Council meeting, each of the 16 applicants will be given 15 minutes to speak and respond to questions from the City Council members.

Members of the public will be able to give public comments, but may not engage applicants in a town hall question and answer format. After the applicant interview, each City Council Member will select 2 or 3 applicants totaling 8 to 12 applicants.  The City Council will then vote on the final slate of applicants, and the applicant that receives a majority 3 to 1 vote will become the appointed City Council member. Should the City Council fail to achieve a majority vote, another City Council vote will take place during the May 28 City Council meeting.  Should the City Council fail to achieve a majority vote at that time, a special election will be called.

My passion is working to enhance the democratic process in Irvine by promoting transparency and eliminating the appearance of conflict of interest with regards to the city decision making process. To that end, I have 3 questions I wish to present to the City Council applicants.

Our elected representatives must represent the interests of their constituents, and not the interests of businesses and organizations that the city does business with. Voter apathy is growing as Irvine residents are losing faith in their elected representatives’ ability to represent their interests. We need to take action to eliminate special interest influence in city business decision making.  Irvine residents need to be inspired and encouraged to participate in Irvine’s decision making process.   Applicants, I ask you: Would you refuse campaign funding and services from special interest organizations and PACs with which the City of Irvine has a business relationship?

Like other California cities the size of Irvine, we can reduce special interest influence by increasing the size of our city council to between 7 and 9 city council members and we can have district elections.  City Council members would not be reliant on special interest funding and services for their campaigns.  Council members would have much in common with the members of the community that they serve and live in.  Residents would be more inspired to participate in Irvine’s decision making process. Applicants, I ask you: Are you in favor of amending Irvine’s city charter to increase Irvine’s city Council to 7 members and to give Irvine district representation?

The Irvine Community Land Trust receives hundreds of thousands of dollars of public financing on an annual basis from or through the City of Irvine and is given ownership or use of public assets. Two city council members and a representative of Starpointe Ventures, who has a business relationship with the city of Irvine and who represents developers with whom the city has a business relationship, serve on the land trust board of directors. Members of the public are unable to access business records or documents. Applicants, I ask you, in the interest of transparency with regards to the use of city funds and city assets, do you believe that the Irvine Community Land Trust should be subject to the requirements of Irvine’s Sunshine Ordinance which would require the land trust to: post agendas of board meetings 12 days in advance of the meeting; to open board meetings to the public and to public comment; and have their business records and documents subject to public information requests?

I also have questions for Irvine residents. For a representative Democracy to work well, decision making should be an interactive process.  Members of the public must communicate with their elected officials.  Elected representatives and commissioners can use your input. Irvine residents, I ask you, are you willing to attend and speak up during public comment at commission meetings where the city business decision making process generally starts?  Are you willing to attend City Council meetings and speak up during public comment at City Council meetings where final decisions are made?

 

Susan Sayre is a long time Irvine resident.  She has watched Irvine grow and evolve for decades Susan has a passion for working to enhance the democratic process in Irvine and is involved with political oversight. Susan is a member of the Orange County League of Women Voters and of the Irvine Watchdog Citizen’s Group.

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org