The Fountain Valley City Council unanimously appointed past member Larry Crandall on Tuesday night to complete the term of former Councilman Mark McCurdy, who resigned last month.
Crandall, who previously was on the council from 1998 to 2012 with three one-year terms as mayor, will serve the rest of McCurdy’s term, which ends in December. He said he doesn’t plan to run for the seat when it comes up for election in November.
Councilwoman Cheryl Brothers nominated Crandall, saying she wouldn’t want a novice to join as the city is about to begin its annual budget planning.
She added that appointing someone who had already declared an interest in running for the seat would give that candidate an unfair election advantage.
“I think Larry Crandall has served us well and will continue to serve us well,” Brothers said.
Mayor Michael Vo said Crandall was “the face of Fountain Valley for many years.”
“I had the opportunity to serve together with Larry Crandall and I know where his heart and mind is,” Vo said.
Frequent city government critic Kim Constantine, who ran unsuccessfully for a council spot in 2016 and recommended at a meeting last month that she be appointed to take over for McCurdy, chided the council Tuesday and thanked supporters who had emailed City Hall requesting that she be installed.
“We are better than having a City Council cherry-pick a crony,” she said.
In the 2016 election, Constantine finished third in a field of four candidates for two available seats, receiving 21.9% of the vote, according to the Orange County registrar of voters office. Brothers and current Mayor Pro Tem Steve Nagel were the highest vote-getters, receiving 26.1% and 31.7%, respectively.
Resident Jaye Towne said Constantine’s showing was an endorsement of her.
“Kim Constantine came in just after the two incumbents in the last election. That means she was chosen by the people ... in the last election,” Towne said. “You may not have a city succession plan that states that she should fill that vacant seat, but by all that’s right and righteous you should do your proper duty to place her in that chair until she can be elected again in November.”
Resident Glenn Grandis rejected that reasoning.
“People mentioning that somebody was elected — no, they were not elected,” he said. “They finished third out of four people.”
Grandis supported the council’s choice.
“I may not agree with everything that you guys will say, but … I do think that you guys do what you think is best for the city,” he said. “I think you need the best possible person up there, and I think Larry Crandall’s a fine person.”
Crandall did not speak at the meeting but was in the audience and accepted congratulations afterward.
In an interview, he said he’s looking forward to helping where he can.
“It’ll be probably like putting on an old shoe,” he said. “It’ll feel pretty comfortable.”
City staff recommended that the council make an appointment, saying it was more financially prudent than holding a special election, which the registrar’s office estimated would cost $177,000 to $195,000.
McCurdy, an insurance broker who was first elected to the council in 2010, stepped down in January. In an email to City Manager Rob Houston, he said he found it “necessary to secure employment outside the area.”
McCurdy occasionally had tense exchanges with his colleagues on the dais. That peaked in December when the rest of the council, for the second year in a row, skipped McCurdy in the mayoral rotation.
McCurdy said at the time that he felt passed over because of his often-opposing views and votes. Other council members said they were concerned by his absences at city meetings and other events, not his voting record.