16 Vie For Open Council Seat

By Michael Armijo

 

Chino Hills – Ed Grahams abrupt resignation last month, the deadline to apply has passed and 16 people have responded by the closing date of July 31st.

Opening up the position and having someone apply for it instead of electing one saved the city around $100,000 for a special election. The term ends a year from November in 2018.

Of the 16 applications, 10 were submitted on the last day they were due, July 31st. The seat is in the fourth district but since Mr. Graham’s seat was originally at-large (voted in by entire city instead of a specific district) anyone living within city limits could apply. But if they want to run in the November 2018 election, they must reside in the fourth district that encompasses Los Serranos and Fairfield Ranch, the fourth district.

Of the 16 applicants, five live in the fourth district and will be eligible for election a year from November: Roanld Eaton, Gary Lawson, Stephen Romero, Brian Johsz, and Joshua Landis.

Other applicants are: Paul Molinaro, an attorney and physician who ran unsuccessfully in the 2016 election; Rossana Mitchell-Arrieta, an attorney and president of the Chino Hills Dog Park Committee who ran unsuccessfully in the 2016 election; Gary Larson, retired, a former Chino Hills councilman and planning commissioner; Jim Gallagher, retired, vice president of the Chino Valley Democratic Club and Chino Hills Dog Park Committee, and a spokesman for Save Tres Hermanos Ranch who ran unsuccessfully in the 2016 election. Joshua Landis, a planning manager for Foothill Transit who has lived in the city for two years, Stephen Romero, director of development for Mayans Development, Inc. and vice chairman of the Chino Hills planning commission; Brian Johsz, director of government affairs for Athens Services, a fire board director, and involved with several civic groups; Ronald Eaton, food service cashier at Disneyland, treasurer of the Chino Hills Historical Society, and lifelong resident of Los Serranos. Garry Poliakon, a certified public accountant, Al Matta, a retired physical education coach, Healthy Hills Steering Committee member, and regular council meeting attendee; Lou Alfonso, retired, Chino Hills citizens on patrol and volunteer for various organizations; Jennifer Holtkamp, homemaker and owner of an online jewelry business. Timothy Finneran, executive director for campus safety at Azusa Pacific University and retired lieutenant for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; Bob Goodwin, distribution center manager for SG Companies, chairman of the Chino Hills public works commission, and Hope for the Hills president; Annabell Liao, Chapman University graduate and intern for State Senator Ed Hernandez in West Covina; and Bill Taylor, initiative director for homeless for L.A. County’s Public Social Services, vice chairman of the Chino Hills parks and recreation commission, Healthy Hills Steering Committee, president and boat parade coordinator for the Chino Hills Kiwanis Club, and board member of the Community Foundation.

The city council discussed how to select an applicant last Tuesday, Aug. 8 at a city council meeting.

Why Graham abruptly resigned seems to still be a mystery, although many community members are thinking he has his priorities in order.

“I hear he’s been traveling with his family a lot, and family is first in my book,” said 20 year resident of Chino Hills Ben Cortes. “He placed his priorities in order and I respect that. I wish him well.”

Graham resigned abruptly on July 7, 2017 in a one line hand written resignation letter: “Effective by the end of the business day today, I resign my position on the city council.” He then signed and dated it.

Graham was reportedly the last original councilman, being voted on the city council in 1991 and served as mayor six times.

According to the California Government Code, the council has 60 days from the beginning of the vacancy to either call for a special election or fill the vacancy by appointment. The council voted 4-0, with Mr. Graham’s seat vacant, to appoint a successor by Sept. 5 2017.

The council had previously voted 5-0 last November to change the current system of electing officials “at large” but instead to vote per district. This means each area of the city will promote their candidate based on geology opposed to the age old popularity contest. They were reportedly threatened by an advocacy group or face a lawsuit, local reports said.

The application includes a questionnaire consisting of 14 questions, such as: have you reviewed the city budget, have you reviewed the city’s general plan, and have you attended or participated in civic meetings. The selected resident will serve on the city council until November 2018. Results will be posted next month after the council decides.