Last night the Elk Grove City Council convened a special meeting to listen to applicants for the vacant District 4 council seat. 20 people applied for the seat that was vacated following the election of Steve Ly as mayor in November. At their December 14 meeting the council decided to fill the vacancy by appointment. A decision that left some residents unhappy. In a meeting that lasted well over 4 hours, the council voted to appoint Stephanie Nguyen to the council.
The council gave each of the applicants for the council position 5 minutes to speak and offer why they would like to be appointed. That was followed by questions from the council members. Some applicants did not attend the meeting.
Following the question and answer session, was public comment. Sacramento labor unions used social media to encourage people to attend the meeting last night and ask the council to call for a special election instead of appointing someone to fill the vacancy. The loud and sometimes raucous crowd repeatedly chanted and made comments during the night, asking for an election. Mayor Ly asked the crowd more than once to wait for public comment and make their voices heard for the record. A number of people spoke to during the public comment period, most were in favor of holding an election. The council had previously cited the cost of a special election as the main reason for the appointment. Estimates on the cost range from $250,000 to $1 million. Many of those commenting cited the lack of diversity on the city council. Two of the four council members are Asian Americans.
Following the public comment period, the council deliberated on the appointment. The council thanked all the applicants and commented how many were worthy of the appointment. Councilman Darren Suen nominated Stephanie Nguyen. The council voted 4-0 to appoint Nguyen to the council.
From the City of Elk Grove press release:
Elk Grove, CA – The Elk Grove City Council has appointed Elk Grove District 4 resident, Stephanie Nguyen, to fill a vacant seat on the Council until 2018.
The appointment was made during a special meeting of the City Council where council members considered the qualifications of twenty residents who applied to fill the vacancy created when Steve Ly assumed the office of Mayor on December 14, 2016. Government Code Section 36512(b) dictates the process for filling a vacancy within a general law city. A vacancy must be filled by the City Council within 60 days of the commencement of the vacancy either by appointment or by calling a special election.
Ms. Nguyen has lived in Elk Grove for more than a decade. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Asian Resources, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Sacramento serving the needs of individuals and families, providing adult employment programs as well as youth programs and services. Ms. Nguyen is married and raising two young daughters with her husband, an Elk Grove Police Department officer. She has served on several boards and commissions including the Juvenile Justice Commission, Pacific Rim Street Festival Foundation and as Secretary of the Council of Asian Pacific Islander Together for Advocacy and Leadership (CAPITAL). Ms. Nguyen has not previously held a public office.
“Volunteering to serve the City as a member of the City Council is a significant commitment of oneself for the good of the community,” said Mayor Steve Ly. “My fellow council members and I are grateful to all of the residents who applied for this appointment, but the decision to appoint Stephanie Nguyen to fill the vacancy in District 4 was supported by her commitment to workforce development and her service to non-profit organizations.”
Ms. Nguyen will occupy the office until December 12, 2018 – the date an elected District 4 Council Member is expected to take office following the November 2018 election.
“I look forward to working with the community and adding a woman’s perspective to the City Council,” said Nguyen.
Ms. Nguyen and newly appointed Planning Commissioner, Mackenzie Wieser, will be sworn in during a ceremony scheduled during the February 8 City Council meeting.