The Visalia City Council held a special meeting on Thursday at the Visalia Convention Center to consider appointing incumbent Phil Cox and newcomer Brett Taylor to the council. The meeting was held in one of the exhibit halls of the convention center. Chairs were placed several feet apart in case the public wished to join.
However, no members of the public were physically present and the council unanimously voted in favor of appointing both candidates without a city-wide election, as there were no other qualified candidates to oppose them.
Mayor Bob Link expressed his disappointment about the lack of opposition and saw the event as yet another missed opportunity to acquire an Hispanic candidate.
“I’m somewhat disappointed in the fact that we were forced to go to district elections, because the Hispanic community did not feel like they were represented. This is the third district election that we have had and we have yet to have a Hispanic candidate.”
Link did not file for re-election and vacated the District 2 seat to Brett Taylor. Link cited over 23 years of service as his reason for leaving the position.
“It’s been a good run for me and it’s been an enjoyable experience, but it’s time for a change.”
Councilman Cox kept his District 1 seat on the council without opposition, something he said brought him relief. With over 20 years of experience as a public servant, Cox knew campaigning right now would have been difficult and costly.
He also believed the lack of candidates was representative of the people’s priorities during the global pandemic.
“I think [COVID-19] has people really in a concerned state. They are more concerned about their families and themselves and their jobs right now, than they are about service in the community.”
Visalia City Clerk Michelle Nicholson mentioned the lack of an official election will save the city an estimated $80,000-$90,000. A silver lining, Cox noted, that would benefit the city financially.
Brett Taylor could not be reached for comment, but is expected to take his position at the council in December.