Calling Fountain Valley Mayor Fred Voss an “embarrassment” because of his arrest on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute, a group of residents Tuesday called for his resignation and threatened a recall election if he did not step down.
“We feel the man absolutely has to resign,” said Beverly Burnett, a longtime Fountain Valley resident and one of seven people who went before the City Council on Tuesday night to ask Voss to resign. “You can’t just ignore it. Here you have a mayor who solicited a woman on a street corner. It’s humiliating for those of us who live here.”
Voss, 52, was arrested by Santa Ana police last month after allegedly soliciting an undercover officer who was posing as a prostitute at the corner of Washington Avenue and Harbor Boulevard. He later pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge and was fined $300.
Contacted after the council meeting, Voss refused to discuss the calls for his resignation, saying only that he plans to “continue my public service.”
“I issued a statement a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “And I stand on that statement.”
At that time, Voss apologized to city residents “for any embarrassment I might have caused them” but said he had no plans to leave office.
Burnett and the other residents who called for his resignation said they did so only after giving the City Council ample time to consider what action to take against the mayor. When it became clear the council was going to do nothing, Burnett said, the group decided to confront the elected officials at Tuesday’s meeting.
Council members could not be reached for comment.
Reading from a letter she sent earlier to the council members, Burnett said the arrest of Voss “showed not only lack of judgment but it was a violation of the public trust that the citizens of Fountain Valley bestowed upon him when he was elected to office. To consider his actions simply as a mistake is an error in itself. The proper word is malfeasance, which is clearly defined as the misconduct of a public official.
“Although soliciting is classified as a misdemeanor, it is nonetheless a crime,” she said.
Burnett and others said that if Voss did not resign, they would initiate a recall drive against him.
“The whole point of coming here tonight is we really do not want to have this city go through the expense of a recall election. We are urging him to resign,” she said.
Bob Moss, a retired chemical engineer and a city resident since 1963, said he would help coordinate any recall drive.
“I think that the mayor should resign and remove the stigma that he has put on the entire city, including the city staff. They are all very embarrassed,” Moss said.
Moss said those calling for Voss to step down would wait until the March 21 council meeting before deciding how to proceed.
Terry McCarthy, an investigator for the Orange County district attorney’s office, said, “If it had been a police officer under the same circumstances, surely they would have at least taken some kind of administrative discipline or punishment. “