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ELECTIONS / CITY COUNCIL : Moorpark May Simply Reappoint Incumbents

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Because no candidates are challenging the three incumbents on the Moorpark City Council seeking reelection this year, the council is considering simply appointing the three to their next term and canceling the local election.

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“The one thing that concerns me is the public perception if we don’t have the election,” said Mayor Paul Lawrason. “The election code is quite clear about allowing us to hold off an election in these circumstances. But I’m worried if we do that the public will believe they’ve been shortchanged somehow.”

At a special City Council meeting scheduled for Wednesday afternoon the council will debate the merits of canceling the vote or holding an election in November in which only one candidate will run for each post.

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No one came forward to challenge Lawrason or Councilmen John Wozniak and Bernardo Perez by the filing deadline last week.

Moorpark has never before had candidates running unopposed for City Council, Lawrason said. He added that the city has had a history of contentious races and he was surprised but pleased that he was running unopposed.

If the council decides to scrub the election, the city would save $3,000 to $4,000. But, like Lawrason, other council members are worried that it would not look good to voters.

“I don’t know how I’m going to vote yet,” said Councilman Scott Montgomery. “But it almost seems un-American not to have an election. It would be nice to save the money, and I don’t see much point to it, but it’s ingrained in me that you would have an election come November.”

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The California Elections Code allows cities to call off a vote if only one candidate files to run for each post up for election, said Moorpark City Clerk Lillian Hare.

Some of the councilmen said they were concerned that calling off the election would eliminate the chances of a write-in candidate.

“I would be reluctant to prevent the possibility of a write-in candidate, but the chances of one person getting the thousands of votes necessary to win are very remote,” Councilman Patrick Hunter said.

“I’m disappointed that no one stepped forward to run, not because I think my colleagues haven’t done a good job, but because it’s healthy to have a choice. I’m not really sure what the point would be when there is no choice.”

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Longtime resident and former postmaster Bart Miller said he felt people have already made their choice about who they support for City Council.

“I think since they’ve been broadcasting the meetings on TV people have seen how well the council gets along,” he said. “I think everyone is well satisfied with what they’re doing. If they weren’t, we would have heard about it by now.”

Perez said he did not see the point of having an election. He said from what he has heard from his constituents, people are satisfied with his job performance.

He said he is relieved that he would not have to campaign for his seat on the council after a succession of difficult races during his six years in office.

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“The question we should be asking ourselves now is what do we realistically gain by having this election,” Perez said. “Why go through the exercise when the outcome will be the same either way? If we decide against the election, we wouldn’t be shutting anyone out of the process, and, in crass terms, we would save money.”


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