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City Determining if Vazquez Must Vacate Council Seat after Winning Election to State Board


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November 7, 2018 -- Santa Monica Councilmember Tony Vazquez easily won a seat on the State Board of Equalization Tuesday, likely creating a vacancy on the Council that could be filled as early as January.

Vazquez defeated Republican candidate G. Rick Marshall in the heavily Democratic District that encompasses Los Angeles County with 1,092,899 votes, or 70 percent, to Marshall's 465,ll9, or 30 percent.

The City Attorney will immediately ask the State Attorney General for an official statement on whether Vazquez would need to step down from the Council to serve on the state board, said City Clerk Denise Anderson-Warren.

The determination would hinge on whether the offices are incompatible or create a conflict of interest ("Can Vazquez Keep Seat if Elected to State Office? The Answer is Not So Simple," July 24, 2018).

"We're assuming the decision will be given quickly," Anderson-Warren said.

The new Council -- which after Tuesday's election will include Greg Morena instead of Pam O'Connor -- will be sworn in December 11.

State office holders are sworn on January 9.

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Vazquez would need to submit a letter saying he is stepping down from his position in order for the City Clerk to advertise for candidates interested in the Council appointment, Anderson-Warren said.

The vacancy would be filled 30 days after the appointment, unless the Council fails to agree on a replacement, Anderson said.

In that case, a special election would be held in March, Anderson-Warren said.

There is speculation the front runners will include Planning Commissioners Richard McKinnon and Jennifer Kennedy, both of whom have run for Council as slow-growth candidates.

Had O'Connor -- who finished a distant fourth in the race for three seats -- been re-elected Tuesday, the Council's pro-growth majority would have remained intact.

In that case the front runner to fill the vacant seat likely would have been Morena, who is considered more pro-growth than Vazquez.

In the months leading up to Tuesday's election, speculation was swirling that Vazquez would try to retain his seat ("Vazquez Council Seat to Likely Open After November Election," August 14, 2018).

Those speculations seemed to have been put to rest when Vazquez testified in a deposition in a voting rights lawsuit against the City that he would step down.

But as election day drew closer, there were rumors Vazquez was seeking a legal opinion on whether he could serve on the two elected bodies.

Vazquez did not return a call for comment Wednesday morning.


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