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Voss Resigns as Mayor but Says He’ll Stay on Council

Times Staff Writer

Fountain Valley Mayor Fred Voss, who was convicted last month on a sex solicitation charge, stepped down from his post Wednesday amid an effort to recall him, but he said he will continue to serve as a city councilman.

“I do not expect that this action will propitiate the more righteous among us,” Voss said, reading from a prepared statement. “But I am not doing it for them; I am doing it because I believe it is in the best interests of my friends, my fellow council members and the city of Fountain Valley.”

Mayor Pro Tempore Laurann Cook became acting mayor immediately after the announcement. The City Council will decide Tuesday which of the four members will replace Voss in the largely ceremonial post.

Voss, a telephone-systems manager for the county and divorced father of two adult sons, was arrested Jan. 30 on suspicion of soliciting sex from an undercover policewoman posing as a prostitute at the intersection of Harbor Boulevard and Washington Avenue. He was among 16 men arrested on Harbor--the site of a highly publicized and continuing police action to rid the area of prostitutes and their customers.

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In his first public comment since his arrest, a visibly emotional and bitter Voss was accompanied Wednesday by the four other City Council members as he announced his resignation as mayor.

The four made their own statements, all saying that they supported his decision to resign and noting that they did not condone what they called Voss’ “mistake.”

One Quotes Bible

Three stressed that they consider Voss a friend. And Councilman James D. Petriken, quoting the Bible, added: “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone.”

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About 20 people--mostly citizens involved with the recall effort--attended the afternoon news conference at Fountain Valley City Hall and vowed afterward to continue their efforts to oust Voss.

“People are very adamant about this--people who have never been involved in politics before,” said Bob Moss, leader of the Fred Voss Recall Committee. “Mr. Voss has exercised poor judgment. Morally, (people) can understand. That’s not the big thing. Mostly, it’s poor judgment . . . and the community embarrassment because of his poor judgment.”

Voss, 52, stopped short of denying that he solicited an undercover policewoman for sex--a misdemeanor charge to which he pleaded no contest Feb. 27.

However, the two-time mayor said the account “leaked” to the media by the Santa Ana Police Department after his arrest was not entirely “true.” Had he gone to trial, Voss added, “my attorney felt I would prevail.”

Says Punishment Adequate

Voss said he was stepping down as mayor because it is a “highly visible” position. But he said he believed that the public shame, his $2,000 attorney fees and his court sentence--a $300 fine and 3 years of informal probation--had been adequate punishment.

“I understand that seeking and holding public office places special responsibilities upon me; nevertheless, I have had to suffer the humiliation of facing friends and co-workers and of attending public functions knowing what people were thinking and saying. I did that with my head up, but no one will ever understand the agony I felt inside,” Voss said.

“I made a mistake. I brought the consequences upon myself and I apologize to the people of Fountain Valley for any embarrassment I may have caused, but I believe that I have been punished.”

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Although Voss, who pleaded no contest to the solicitation charge, said he chose not to fight the accusations, he said, “I obviously was there” on Harbor Boulevard on the night of his arrest and “had a conversation that was a mistake.”

Nevertheless, he added, “I do not believe the statements made by the Santa Ana Police Department are true.” He would not elaborate.


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