Anaheim City Council members have three weeks to interview candidates on their own before they vote to select one on Sept. 14 to fill the now-vacant District 2 seat — the same day some people may hear from replacement candidates for the first time.
It comes after the resignation of Jordan Brandman — the embattled, former District 2 representative who weathered scrutiny and backlash for a set of leaked and vulgar texts he sent about former council member and political rival, Denise Barnes.
The unanimous decision came at the council’s Tuesday meeting, opening up the window for people to apply to become replacement candidates from Aug. 25 to Sept. 8.
All council members were in favor of going down the council appointment road, rather than a special election — citing expected costs of up to $221,000 for an election, as well as the relatively short period of time the replacement would hold the seat before its current term ends.
Councilmember Jose Moreno proposed devoting a special council meeting to the issue.
That way, he said, the city could provide a public forum for candidates, and residents, to see the interview process play out in the open — as opposed to replacement candidates coming to make the case for themselves the same day the council decides and discusses other city issues.
“I prefer not to hear from them (the candidates) and then vote on them that same evening,” he said. “I prefer … to then hear from the residents of District 2 — we wouldn’t be able to hear from the public about what they heard from the (candidates’) public comments that same night.”
Mayor Harry Sidhu shot the idea down.
“I am absolutely not going to have a special meeting just for this, because this (schedule the council approved Tuesday) gives applicants plenty of time,” Sidhu said. “I would like to [talk to] as many as possible to see who is the better candidate and meet with them.”
He said council members can meet with candidates “one-to-one” and that replacement candidates could open up “their own meeting” to discuss their candidacy “within District 2,” adding “it doesn’t have to be at the city council.”
However, Sidhu said was open to Moreno’s suggestion of giving candidates more time during public comment at the Sept. 14 meeting to make their last push — “I am capable of thinking about this. I think it will be fine.”
Though he said it all depends on how many applicants the city gets.
“If we get 100 applicants, that might be difficult to listen to them that day. If it is a small amount of candidates we can extend that time,” he said.
Council members Trevor O’Neill and Moreno both agreed that candidates should include statements in their application about their top priorities for their district and the city.
O’Neill also wondered aloud whether the candidates should agree that the information in their application can be independently verified by the city for vetting purposes.
City Clerk Theresa Bass said the only verification she does is through the Orange County Registrar of Voters, to ensure residency requirements are met.
Deputy City Manager Greg Garcia told council members that more verification measures “can’t hurt.”