Brentwood city council should let the voters decide on how to fill the vacant city council seat. That can only be done via appointment of the next highest vote getter in the last election or a special election.
Why the next highest vote getter?
- Compromise. Nearly everyone agrees that the one truly fair way to fill a vacant council seat is with an open election, but a special election can be time-consuming and expensive. The best compromise is to appoint the next highest vote getter in the previous election which is immediate, no-cost, and reflects the wishes of the voters.
- Precedent. Brentwood has a history of appointing the next highest vote getter when a vacancy arises from a city council member being elected mayor. It happened in 2006 when Bob Taylor was elected mayor. In 1996 there was even an advisory vote where voters let the city council know they wanted the next highest vote getter should a vacancy result from the 1996 election.
- People’s Choice. The precedent of the next highest vote getter was established out of an acknowledgement that a natural ranking is formed during an election and the voter’s choice to fill the seat would be the next highest vote getter. Additionally, the 2020 election results are clear with a separation of only 1.88 percentage points between first and second highest vote getters and a distinct separation of 12.69 percentage points between second and third. Bryant and Rarey were the standouts from the pool of seven candidates https://results.enr.clarityelections.com/CA/Contra_Costa/106123/web.264614/#/summary
- Karen Rarey. The second highest vote getter was Karen Rarey. Brentwood residents recognize the countless contributions she makes to the city as a whole. She doesn’t just vote on agenda items—she asks the tough questions and conducts the research to make informed decisions.
Here are some highlights:
- The sole vote against rezoning Walnut Villas from business park to residential.
- The sole vote against increasing the water rates at the last fee study.
- The sole vote against the gerrymandered city council district map.
- Fought for less residential in the Priority Area 1 economic development area.
- The only Councilmember to send a letter against the proposed PowerDrive Oil/Gas wells.
- Researched and successfully challenged the Goodwill proposal on grounds that the processing plant was light industrial and didn’t fit the zoning.
- The only Councilmember to alert the city to the proposed Cannabis site, allowing them to appeal, and the only Councilmember to speak and comment at the two county meetings.
- Requested and passed increased Holiday Decorations in the downtown area including the Deck the Park in City Park.
- Requested and passed an item to strengthen the code regarding blight from closed/vacant buildings in or adjacent to residential neighborhoods as well as closed businesses.
- Requested and passed a stricter massage parlor ordinance aimed at curtailing and/or preventing human trafficking within our city limits.
- Requested and passed the ability for restaurants to increase outdoor seating capacity lost by social distancing guidelines.
- Requested staff examine funding methods for Economic Development Infrastructure funds to attract businesses. A consultant is now working on creating three Enhanced Infrastructure Finance Districts to help fund infrastructure in PA-1, Brentwood Boulevard and Downtown.
Subject: Brentwood Council Wants to Waste $200,000!
I, and many other residents, received an email with this headline. The body of the email was Letter Writer Says Brentwood City Council Should Appoint, Not Waste Money on Special Election.
Councilmember Mendoza and Councilmember Meyer put residents first when considering how to fill the council seat vacancy. Mendoza said “Karen was selected, she was the second highest vote getter…the people have spoken”. Meyer said “residents have already spoken, they spoke in their election votes”.
That stance—placing the focus on residents—is now being spun into a bad thing for Mendoza and Meyer as they are accused of serving “a small, local, special interest group” and wasting money. Their first choice would have resolved the matter immediately, at no-cost, and reflected the wishes of the voters.
“Special Interest Group”. The group mentioned is a group of Brentwood residents concerned about the way Brentwood grows. We are working together to ensure that Brentwood stays true to its General Plan and focuses on job growth, while protecting the open space and agricultural land that ensure Brentwood residents enjoy a high quality of life.
There is no sign-up for this “special interest group”. There are no dues for members to pay. No one is paid to be in this group. No one is paid to do work on the group’s behalf. Anyone who shares the values and goals of the group is a member. We are Brentwood residents.
They say politics is the art of compromise. Mendoza and Meyer did just that. When the motion failed to appoint the next highest vote getter, Mendoza made another motion to send the matter to vote in an all-mail special election. Mayor Bryant and Councilmember Rodriguez refused to compromise, insisting on an application process. The one thing they were all clear on—none of them wanted to spend $200,000 on a special election.
They say we need to give Joel Bryant a chance. Joel Bryant is mayor. This is his chance to bring the council together and resolve this matter. This is one of many chances he has had to hear resident concerns and act on them. The question posed at city council remains, what possible motivation can Joel Bryant, the recipient of $40,000 in campaign contributions from a developer, have for keeping Karen Rarey off the city council when she has such widespread popular support and is uniquely qualified?
Do we want a council that represents the residents of Brentwood? If the answer is yes, join me and many other residents in telling the council to appoint the next highest vote getter from the last election as the first option and an all-mail special election as a second option. Please take the City Council survey on the city’s website as soon as possible. Deadline: 12:00 AM on 12/28/2020 https://brentwoodca.gov/gov/council/council_survey.asp