Irvine Councilman Larry Agran resigned last night with just a week left on his term, giving him exactly one week off the dais in a move he says will let him run for another four years on the city council.
Agran is one of the longest serving city council members in Orange County, having served for 30 years on the city council on and off since 1978.
After leaving office in 2014, Agran was reelected in 2020, where he placed third overall in the election.
Ordinarily, that would have meant he lost the election, but because Farrah Khan won the mayoral race that year, he instead took over the two years left on her council seat she won in 2018.
On Election Night this year, Agran easily defended his reelection bid as the top vote getter in the city, bringing in 24% of the overall vote.
But Irvine’s city charter has a rule that was approved by the voters in 2014 that council members and the mayor can serve no more than two full terms for life, which considers anything over two years as a full term.
Agran campaigned against those term limits at the time, calling it the “worst written term limits proposal in history,” in a statement on the 2014 ballot, saying it was a bid by then Mayor Steven Choi to stay in office for another eight years.
Choi left the city council in 2016 and went to the State Assembly, where he served until he lost his reelection bid this year to Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris after redistricting.
In a letter this week to city clerk Carl Petersen and his council colleagues, Agran said that by resigning last night, he would fall just short of serving more than two years, giving him the opportunity to run for a second full term in 2026.
“I was sworn-in for my current two-year term on December 8, 2020, and the swearing-in ceremony for the new term to which I was just elected will not occur until December 13, 2022,” Agran wrote. “Although I believe that the Charter provision quoted above was not intended to count my partial term as a full term…it could be construed in that manner.”
To read the full letter, click here.
In a phone call with Voice of OC Tuesday morning, Agran described his resignation as a “quirk of the calendar.”
“It seems to me only fair and appropriate to be entitled to the two full terms, not frankly be controlled by the quirks of the calendar,” Agran said. “This is all a bit of a problem just in the drafting of the charter amendment.”
As evidence for his argument, Agran pointed out that Khan had served less than two years of her council seat before she was sworn in as mayor, meaning she could run for a city council seat after her current and final term as mayor.
“She’s entitled to two full council terms now, and I think that should be the case for anyone serving a short term of two years, I think that’s certainly what was intended,” Agran said.
In the future, Agran says he wants to pass a charter amendment that would leave the limit of two four year terms in place, but make it so that a two year term would not count against any city council member.
Agran’s move appears to have split council colleagues, with some supporting it while others call it a desperate attempt to hang onto office.
Councilman Mike Carroll, a frequent critic of Agran’s, said he supported Agran’s move to serve a second term in a text message.
“The term limit measure was poorly drafted. It never contemplated the likely occurrence of someone filling the unexpired term of a Councilmember who is elected Mayor,” Carroll said.
Councilwoman Tammy Kim called it a “slippery power grab.”
“Is 40 years on the city council not enough?” Kim said. “At what point is this not simply about greed?”
Khan and outgoing Councilman Anthony Kuo did not respond to requests for comment from Voice of OC on Tuesday morning.
Agran is set to take the oath of office again at the council’s December 13th meeting, alongside Mayor Khan and incoming Councilwoman Kathleen Treseder.
Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a Groundtruth initiative. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @NBiesiada.
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