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City Council Deadlocks 5 Times, Fails to Appoint New Council Member

The Elk Grove City Council sought to fill a vacancy left when Gary Davis was elected mayor, but couldn't reach a consensus.

The Elk Grove City Council will have a vacancy for at least two more weeks. 

The four people on the council sought to appoint a fifth member Wednesday night, but numerous votes resulted in ties and the group punted the item to its next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 23. 

"So we're going to pull the Band-Aid off this slowly and go through this whole thing again in two weeks?" Council Member Pat Hume asked.

The candidates who applied to represent District 4, a seat vacated when Gary Davis was elected mayor in November, were:

  • Edward Busuttil, a San Joaquin County Assistant District Attorney. He said safety should be the No. 1 priority of the council, adding government should be "effective and efficient."
  • Nancy D. Chaires, an Elk Grove Planning Commissioner who said she works hard to protect the best interests of local residents and wants to ensure they have the best representation possible.
  • David Conner, the CEO of RECON Networking, Inc. He said the city should be business-friendly and create job opportunities for residents to work close to home.
  • LaWanna Montgomery, a recent mayoral candidate who has run for council two other times. She said her strength lies in working with people.
  • Oscar O'con, a business consultant who is involved in several Elk Grove organizations. He named supporting small businesses as one of his highest priorities, and was backed by the chair of the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee.
  • Jeffrey Owen, a youth soccer coach and Vice President of Operations at School Innovations & Advocacy. Owen said his top two priorities would be the civic center and Southeast Policy Area.

During Wednesday's meeting, the council voted to appoint Chaires, O'con, Conner and Owens, coming up with a 2-2 tie each time. Each time, the votes split the same way: Davis and Council Member Jim Cooper only voted in favor of Chaires, while Hume and Vice Mayor Steve Detrick voted in favor of each of the three others.

The council members also debated a ranked-choice method of appointment that would have each of them gives points to a first, second and third-choice, and then appoint the candidate who receives the most points. The council tied when voting on whether or not to try that method.

If no decision is reached within 60 days of Davis assuming his position as mayor, the city will be forced to call a special election.

Cooper said his fellow council members should "make a decision and stick by it," so waiting two weeks shouldn't have any effect on the outcome. He said Wednesday's repeated deadlock showed the council should call for a special election.

"I don't want to bring it back," he said.

Community member Michael Monasky, who voiced concerns when the council voted to decide whether it would appoint a new council member or hold a special election, criticized the process.

"I thought this was a democracy," Monasky said. "When a few people decide who should rule, that's an oligarchy."

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Connie Conley January 10, 2013 at 06:20 AM
Mayor Gary Davis and Council member Jim Cooper are to be applauded for standing by their choice, no matter what. Why nominate someone and then fip on a dime? Reply
M.Legison January 10, 2013 at 08:19 AM
" Davis and Cooper only voted in favor of Chaires, while Davis and Detrick voted in favor of each of the three others." Did you mean Hume and Detrick?
Cody Kitaura (Editor) January 10, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Whoops! What a silly error... thanks for pointing that out.
M.Legison January 10, 2013 at 05:00 PM
Cooper and Davis want to force the special election, because the only candidate with funding lined up is theirs, Nancy Chaires. If she gets elected, then for the first time in the history of cityhood, the Council will become a true partisan body, dominated and supported by the Democratic Party and the local unions. The effect on potential major employers will be devastating as they look for business friendly councils, not those who favor big government and unions.
Tom Waltman January 10, 2013 at 05:46 PM
While I agree that it will put an interesting slant on the Council, I don't know that it will have any more devastating effect now. Union money has always been a huge mover in EG political financing. At least 3 of the Councilmembers have received major funding from muliple unions. They happen to represent a large number of local residents, so I don't think that it is much more pernicious than the amount of developer money that has been present in our city politics. If you look at Gary Davis' past actions, he has been fairly even handed in pushing business development both public and private. He and I may disagree at times on how we bring those businesses in, but he has been very solid pro-business. The question is, now that things are changing, will he continue to walk the middle ground, or will he allow partisanship to creep back into our city. I don't think he will chose the uglier of the roads. I just hope he keeps his plethora of ideas to advance our community in line with our funding ability! As to the person who will replace him... Nancy is a very qualified person. But I can tell you that Dave Conner is as well. Oscar O'con has put a lot of time into our community, and would be an asset as well. If the Council can't agree on a replacement, I think the race could be interesting. Yes, Nancy would have an advantage in having access to Gary's political machine, but that is true now and 2 years from now. The others need to be prepared for the opportunity.
Sarah Johnson January 10, 2013 at 06:38 PM
I don't understand the insistence that Oscar O'con is the answer to being business friendly. We have a very well paid Economic Development Director and a Chamber of Commerce driven Economic Development Corporation . As Tom mentioned, Gary Davis has been diligent in pursuit of economic opportunity for Elk Grove. Pat Hume mentioned that part of the problem was the misguided actions of the original council who seemed to think that Elk Grove would just automatically attract the biggest and the best businesses, and when combined with the downturn in the economy, we are still trying to work our way out of those mistakes. We did not elect the Chamber of Commerce to run our city. I have had less than satisfactory interactions with them over the years because they have a singular focus - business interests should prevail at all costs, ignore the wishes of the residents. I will be happy to detail these instances if anyone wants to hear about it.
Mark Paxson January 11, 2013 at 02:50 AM
M. ... I have a suggestion, go to the city clerk page on Elk Grove's website. Review the campaign reports filed by the four current city council members. Let me know if you find one that had a majority of their money come from unions. Let me know if you find one that had a majority of their contributors represent unions. I'll give you a clue ... just as with so many of your allegations, the facts don't back you up. For all four city council members, more dollars and more contributors are business owners and developers than unions or their representatives. Nice try, though. It's always nice to see you demonstrate how incapable you are of saying anything that can be supported by facts.
Mark Paxson January 11, 2013 at 02:57 AM
You don't realize that the commenters above you believe that business can do no wrong, that government should cater to them, and that everything will be just fine if we just let business grow and grow and grow. That's their solution to everything. I totally agree with you regarding the pro-business slant of the EG City Council over the years.
Mark Paxson January 11, 2013 at 03:03 AM
You do realize, also that your perspective of the City Council being beholden to one party and one ideology and in the pocket of the unions is completely contradicted by the idea that the four members couldn't agree on a candidate to fill Davis' slot. You do realize also that Cooper and Davis were the only ones who took a consistent position. For Chaires and against all others, while the other two members apparently voted for everybody but Chaires. You sure, it's Cooper and Davis who are trying to force a special election?
Tom Waltman January 11, 2013 at 03:06 PM
Mark, you do realize that EG was, by every objective measurement, the most business-unfriendly city in the Sacramento region until VERY recently, don't you? And, while I appreciate your ability to look at individual contributions in isolation, you have no idea of the history of the current council's financing, and how the unions, especially the Firefighters, have played an overwhelming role in city politics.
Margaret Johnson January 11, 2013 at 06:06 PM
If there is anyone who truly thinks that this is a fair and impartial board...you are sadly mistaken. The writing has been on the wall since Davis sat in this seat. Nancy has been his plan all along. Let's just call it what it is and not state that Hume and Detrik were "wishy washy" but that Davis and Cooper had a self-serving plan all along and that perhaps the other two didn't agree with the politics and were trying to come to a better compromise. Nobody on the council deserves kudos for what when on the other night....all of them have their plans!!!
Tom Waltman January 11, 2013 at 07:21 PM
Margaret, well stated... They are a nefarious bunch. Never seen a more shifty-eyed group in my life. Politicians that don't have a plan, agenda, whatever you want to call it, probably shouldn't be elected. Hopefully their "plans" coincide with the public good. I believe these folks all have plans, and that, for the most part, they are working towards the public good. We may disagree on the plan, but that doesn't make it necessarily bad.
Mark Paxson January 12, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Tom ... the facts don't support your allegations anymore than they do M. Legison's. In one election, out of all the city elections in the history of Elk Grove, the Firefighters contributed big. 2006. Other than that, they have been almost entirely absent from city elections in Elk Grove. It's not about looking at "individual contributions in isolation". I've now looked at almost all of the campaign disclosure statements for the past thirteen years. What is crystal clear is that almost all of the candidates who currently sit on the council, as well as most of their opponents receive a majority of their donations from business owners and developers. Considering the pro-development record of the City Council during most of its history, it's pretty hard to figure out how anybody could think they're in the hands of unions and business-unfriendly. The idea that this council is dominated by the Democratic party and supported by the unions is ludicrous. The idea that the Firefighters have played an overwhelming role in city politics is ludicrous. If you think they have -- please tell me how it is that they do so without providing significant funding to the candidates, except in 2006.
Tom Waltman January 12, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Mark, you do know what independent expenditures are, don't you? If you look at my original post, I am not arguing anything about Democratic party control or union domination, that is your straw man. I am simply acknowledging that unions have played a major role in the political funding and process here (remember the charter commission), and that the city has only recently been business-friendly. If you want to argue that, please talk to Sarah or Gary and get some competent insight on our history here. It is a little early for revisionist history in our town.
Mark Paxson January 13, 2013 at 03:00 AM
No, Tom, actually it's M. Legison's straw man. I'm multi-tasking ... refuting your non-factual allegations as well has his/hers. Yes, I'm fully aware of independent expenditures ... all of which must also be reported. Those reports show that firefighters were heavily involved in one election and one only. Again, you believe Firefighters have played a major role in city politics ... the way they do that is by funding candidates in elections. They have been virtually non-existent in EG council elections with the exception of one year. If you have actual facts to suggest otherwise, feel free to share them. But continuing to repeat the same thing without actually backing it up with those facts ... well, hate to say it, but it's a straw man. It's really kind of funny actually having to argue about whether or not EG is business friendly. Virtually every person I know who lives in EG would disagree with that sentiment, considering the rampant and unfettered development that went on until the Great Recession.
Mark Paxson January 13, 2013 at 03:01 AM
Funny thing is ... on this point, I agree with you. I think the EG City Council has consistently been one of the more incompetent group of politicians this area has seen over the past decade. I don't necessarily ascribe it to being "nefarious," I just think they're incompetent.

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