Hanford City Council Member John Draxler announced at the April 20 meeting his intentions to resign.
Draxler was elected in 2018 beating out incumbent David Ayers by four points.
At the beginning of the pandemic Draxler said that he and his wife bought a second home in Sacramento near his daughters and grand children. Because he found himself often going back and forth he said, “I did not want to get into the situation where I was spending too much time up there and not taking care of the business here in Hanford.”
According to government code, Draxler can participate in the selection of his replacement of which he expressed a desire to do.
City Manager Mario Cifuentes pointed out that if Draxler participates in choosing his replacement he would not be able to advocate on any matter that would benefit him personally, enter into any contracts with the city, accept any position, or apply for a permit that is subject to council approval for two years.
Draxler’s resignation will be official upon the appointment of the new council member. His replacement would hold the District A seat until the end of Draxler’s normal term, December 31, 2022.
Cifuentes gave a short presentation concerning the pros and cons of calling a special election or an appointment.
A special election, if called, would happen November 9, 2021 and cost approximately $43,000 – 48,000. It would also potentially lead to District A seat sitting empty for six months. Draxler said in the event the city wanted a special election he would be flexible about when he would resign.
The advantage of an election, said Cifuentes, is that the residents get to chose their representative.
But the appointment process is free and can happen within two months. Cifuentes suggested that because the council will be facing major decisions next year concerning the budget they need to be working as a team.
“Its better to have someone sooner than later,” he said.
Mayor Francisco Ramirez said that he initially wanted a special election but that the cost was a big factor. Ramirez suggested considering the residents that ran against Draxler and said that the process would be done with the maximum of transparency and public input.
Vice Mayor Dianne Sharp said that there are many fine candidates in District A so she suggested getting the word out and start collecting applications. Council Member Kalish Marrow said that if the council could not come to a consensus about who to choose they could always call for a special election.
Even though Draxler’s resignation is not yet official two people stepped forward during public comment to be considered to fill his seat.
David Ayers, former mayor and council member from 2014 – 2018, said they should pick someone with experience on the council and who is vested in the district. Ayers has been living in District A for 31 years.
“I love this city. The city has been good to me and I would love to have the opportunity once again to represent the city.”
Former candidate for the assembly and business owner Todd Cotta also threw his hat in the ring. He has been on the Laguna Irrigation Board for 12 years and is a retired sheriff.
A lifelong resident of Hanford, Cotta said, “I would like to serve as a gesture of love towards the people and make sure this community thrives by making our city services customer friendly and continue the great relations between city officials and the people.”
Cifuentes will be presenting options on how the council can proceed with the appointment process at the May 4 meeting.