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Former EGUSD Superintendent Who Didn't Apply for Seat is Appointed to City Council

Robert Trigg will fill the District 4 vacancy left when Gary Davis was elected mayor.

In its second try to appoint a new council member, the Elk Grove City Council decided Wednesday night it would rather choose someone who hadn't applied than fail to agree on one of the five candidates who did and force a special election.

The council voted 3-1 to appoint former Elk Grove Unified School District Superintendent Robert L. Trigg to the city council. He'll represent District 4, vacated when Gary Davis was elected mayor.

Davis said at first, he hadn't thought much of an Elk Grove Citizen opinion column's suggestion to appoint Trigg, but then he called the former school official after a growing concern that the four council members wouldn't be able to agree on an appointee.

"The first thing out of his mouth was, 'Eh, you guys will be able to figure this out,'" Davis said. "I said if we can't, would you be willing to do this? The answer is he really doesn't want to do this, but he would."

Council Member Pat Hume, who nominated Trigg, said he would be "proud to have him answer the call to public service" and sit on the council.

Vice Mayor Steve Detrick said Trigg was "a great alternative" to the pricey special election that would have resulted from a deadlock.

 and was unable to choose a citizen to represent District 4.

Council Member Jim Cooper railed against the decision to appoint Trigg, who was not in attendance at the meeting.

"The public never had input in this process before the name was brought up after public comment was closed," Cooper said. "That is not transparency when a name is brought up at the last minute. You want transparency, you want public input. The public was excluded and that's poor policy."

Cooper was the sole no vote Wednesday night.

The candidates who did apply for the seat were:

  • Edward Busuttil, a San Joaquin County Assistant District Attorney.
  • 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.
  • LaWanna Montgomery, a recent mayoral candidate who has run for council two other times.
  • Oscar O'con, a business consultant who is involved in several Elk Grove organizations. 

Jeffrey Owen, a youth soccer coach and Vice President of Operations at School Innovations & Advocacy, removed himself from the running at the Jan. 9 meeting. 

The council also voted to nominate Busuttil during Wednesday's meeting, deadlocking 2-2.

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Tom Waltman January 24, 2013 at 03:56 AM
Very nice. I knew these folks could get this done. Now to start cleaning the Mac'n'Cheeze off my computer screen. Congrats!
Chris January 24, 2013 at 07:38 AM
Tonight was certainly not a night of which to be proud. No citizen input. None of us know where Mr. Trigg stands on the issues we face, nor was he questioned by the council as were the other candidates so the public could at least have a sense of who will be making important decisions which will affect our daily lives. And the flip side of that is many of us know too well of Sophia Scherman's lack of expertise in understanding planning. Shocked that Gary Davis appointed her to the planning commission when there are others who are certainly more qualified and have earned the right to serve. Good thing Steve Detrick and Jim Cooper vetoed that appointment. Davis then appointed Sophia's planning commissioner Frank Maita. AWKWARD!
M.Legison January 24, 2013 at 08:49 AM
Very strategic move and a fine appointment. If you don't know where Robert Trigg stands on the issues, then you shouldn't be voting. Congratulations on the appointment.
A. Nonymous January 24, 2013 at 02:51 PM
Hard to say there is citizen input in a process that preordains a council person before there is a vacant seat. Nancy Chaires was being introduced by North Sacramento assemblyman Roger Dickinson as Elk Grove's next councilwoman at Davis' fundraisers when he was running for mayor -- before the seat was available. Jim Cooper is looking for another liberal on the council so he won't have to work so hard. He gets bent out of shape if its not his way -- a classic bully. And with Cooper's plan to run for the Assembly in 2014 -- mid term in his council seat -- he will force this upon the city again if he wins his primary. Trigg was a smart compromise, and the council seat will have true citizen input when it really matters -- at the next election.
Greg January 24, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Mr Trigg is a smart competent man. Frankly I am surprised that he went for walking into that bag of worms. On the positive side --- if anyone can get that motley crew properly governing, he's the one that can do it!
Dan Schmitt January 24, 2013 at 04:52 PM
Although Councilman Cooper is correct that the appointment of Bob Trigg circumvents the agreed-upon process, it's a win-win situation. The Elk Grove City Council gets a tremendously capable temporary member and the Elk Grove residents get a person who will truly represent them. When the process isn't working, it's time to try something different. Spending $500,000 for a special election makes no sense in the current economic climate. Heck, it wouldn't make any sense if Elk Grove were flush with money! Bob Trigg embodies professionalism, commitment, compassion, intelligence, common sense, and pragmatism. GREAT MOVE.
Sarah Johnson January 24, 2013 at 05:21 PM
Mr. Trigg has a sterling reputation and I am frankly surprised that he would agree to join in this "process". Politics is what played out last night and in the end we were deprived of the best person for the job, Nancy Chaires. I hope Nancy runs next time, we could use her talent.
Connie Conley January 24, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Robert Trigg may be a fine candidate, but that is not what is at issue here. All of the other candidates went through a tedious process, filled out the applications, presented with questions in a public forum which came from the public, and were questioned before the city council. Not to mention how uncomfortable it was made for all of them. And they were all dismissed just like that. Gary Davis said Mr. Trigg said he didn’t want the appointment. Many of us have been to years of council meetings and I don’t recall him addressing the council on any issue; so we don’t know where he stands on issues that will affect our daily lives. Mr. Trigg is going to be the swing vote on many issues. One example: Last night there was, once again, a stalemate on the controversial sign ordinance. At the very least, the public deserved to hear him answer the same questions posed to the other candidates.
A. Nonymous January 24, 2013 at 07:28 PM
If Nancy Chaires is the best person for the job, then the voters will prove it if they choose to elect her when the seat is up for election. If Davis believed himself the best person for the Mayor job, he should have resigned, allowing the voters to select him and his replacement at the same time. And to clarify Mrs. Johnson, politics is what was playing out with Cooper and Davis pressuring for a partisan appointee. When Joe Serna died, Jimmy Yee took the seat because he pledged to not run for it later. Sacramento voters got to decide who would be Sacramento's mayor, not the politicos. That is a real representational process.
Sarah Johnson January 24, 2013 at 08:05 PM
My point was that Detrick and Hume were playing politics as well by trying to make an appointment that might have been politically expedient for them and their political careers. Remember, they both praised Chaires talent, experience, track record, etc., and then said they wouldn't vote for her because she was :tainted, even though the taint was political and not of her doing.
Marty January 24, 2013 at 08:42 PM
There is no question that Mr Trigg is a honorable and well respected person. That is what I find most surprising, that at this stage in his life he would want to enter into this arena. From what I am being told, he has never attended any planning or council meetings, preferring to remain disengaged in the political aspects of the community andc we all know that politics do enter into the city council. Would this mean that he would have to recuse himself from any decisions regarding the Madeira area or just the Del Webb/Glenbrooke area? Anything happening regarding Madiera such as the Civic Center, Aquatic Center, Dignity Health & more would be of great interest to residents in Glenbrooke I would think.
Obi Juan January 24, 2013 at 11:20 PM
The process on this whole thing kinda' stinks. First, the man didn't really want the job? How motivated will he be...and just what are his motives for accepting? Second, this was a compromise appointment to avoid a costly special election; so what exactly is the proper price for full and fair citizen input? What is the price for not having it? Somehow, I expected more from Gary Davis.
Tom Waltman January 25, 2013 at 12:43 AM
Sarah... Come on. I talked to her well over a year ago about this potential openning. She told me then SHE was going to get the seat. That is backed by the continuing references of both Gary and Roger about her being the next City Councilperson. Nancy was part and parcel to this process, and trying to revise history now is a bit disengenuous. She may be the best person for the seat, but NOBODY OWNS THIS TOWN. Not Gary. Not Pat. And sure as HELL not Roger Dickenson. This was the best outcome for everyone. Nancy can run in 2014, and I am sure Gary's machine will be behind her then as it has been for the last year. (If I was running for office, I would want his machine behind me. It is danged effective!) I expect her to win, but I hope she does it by running as Nancy Chaires, and not as Gary Davis' handpicked successor. She is far too smart and capable for that. I applaud Gary for recognizing that there is a better way, and finding it. That is the guy I know and like (and voted for, yet again).
M.Legison January 25, 2013 at 01:56 AM
And it is your opinion that Gary Davis and Jim Cooper WEREN'T playing politics? Didn't they vote against EVERY other candidate last round? Gary's gang of liberals didn't work this time and I'm sorry you didn't get your uber-liberal member to tilt the council to the left permanently. At least you got a Democrat. It's fine to be a zealot of the left, but at least please try to make an occasional attempt to be honest.
Sarah Johnson January 25, 2013 at 04:43 PM
All four played politics. For those of you who are quick to criticize me, try reading my comments more carefully in order that you are understanding them correctly. They did what was best for them politically and personally, rather than what may have been best for the community. I do hope Nancy Chaires will run in 2014. Mr. Trigg gave the Council a way out of the corner they had painted themselves into, but nothing has happened to fix the flawed process that got them there in the first place.
Tom Waltman January 25, 2013 at 07:40 PM
No, Sarah, I think they DID do what was best for the community. Gary and everyone else there realized that the process was flawed, and they found a solution that worked in the best interest of the community. They took the politics out of the equation, and found a person that the majority could agree upon. That is what good leaders do.
Sarah Johnson January 25, 2013 at 08:13 PM
Yes, at that point, it was the best answer. However, I want to hear the explanation for the Sophia Scherman fiasco, which may show us more than this issue has. Let's also hear how this flawed process will get fixed.
Marty January 25, 2013 at 09:42 PM
I too am anxious to hear an explanation about the Sophia S. fiasco and I believe Mayor Davis owes us an explanation.
Chris January 25, 2013 at 11:21 PM
It is interesting to note that Gary Davis who believes in transparency in government has not responded to numerous requests to explain his rationale in appointing Sophia Scherman to the planning commission. By not doing so, he is opening himself up to criticism from even his staunchest supporters who have stood by him through it all. It begs the question: Does it have anything to do with the Trigg appointment in that Herberger/Trigg/Scherman have a long-standing association? But if it does, Davis had to know that Detrick and Cooper would never go for it; so it was a win-win for Davis because he can say he tried, but it was vetoed by the council. Critics say Davis is a slick politician; so this would fit the bill.
JJ Johnson January 26, 2013 at 06:50 AM
Why would Davis respond to any of the "numerous requests" when he got what he wanted? He looked good, embarrassed Sophia, and allowed a battered and bruised council to agree on something.

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