The city is seeking candidates who live in Northwest Hanford (District A) to apply for the council seat held by departing Councilmember John Draxler.
So far two candidates have emerged for the District A seat—former long-term Council Member David Ayers who was defeated by Draxler in the last election and Todd Cotta, a retired sheriff, gun shop owner and conservative talk show host.
Draxler and his wife bought a house in Sacramento to be closer to their daughters and grandchildren.
The council Tuesday adopted procedures suggested by staff for replacing Draxler.
State Government Code 36512 requires that there either be a special election or the council pick a candidate. The selection process consists of public interviews and ranking of candidates. By June 15 the council will decide whether to pick one of the candidates or call for a special election, according to the procedures adopted by the council. If there is a special election, it will cost the city $38,400 – $43,400.
But first on May 27 each council member gets to select one applicant to be interviewed publicly on June 3.
Applications will be accepted online (www.ci.hanford.ca.us) up to 5 pm May 21.
The application procedures are explained in the staff report which can be found in the agenda packet for the May 4 council meeting (Item C). This can be located at the city’s website under Agendas and Minutes.
Applicants have to be registered voters who live within the city of Hanford in District A, according to the staff report.
The Valley Voice interviewed Ayers and Cotta about why they are running.
Cotta, who is anti-covid vaccine, said his number one priority is the restoration of business activity following the pandemic lockdowns. Cotta pledged to help small business which he feels is not being treated fairly.
Friends asked him to run, he said. Previously Cotta, a Republican, made an unsuccessful but respectable run for the state Assembly seat held by Rudy Salas (D-32nd).
Cotta is an opponent of expanding Hidden Valley Park. The “city does not need more financial obligations to parks,” he said.
Cotta owns the Kings Gun Center property at 426 Park Avenue in downtown Hanford.
Ayers, a physical therapist, said he is running because his previous experience on the council will be beneficial to the city. Cities that are doing well in the Valley, he said, have council members who have been on the council for years and know how the city functions.
Ayers is proposing a compromise on the Hidden Valley expansion. Signature gathering is underway on a citizens’ initiative to protect the property for park expansion. If there are enough signatures to get the voter initiative on the ballot, he would favor rezoning half the expansion acreage west of Hidden Valley and building houses on the other half. This way, he said, the proceeds from land sale could pay for the park expansion.
When Ayers was on the council in 2019 he voted with the majority to rezone the property from public facilities to low density residential and declare the property surplus, a prelude to selling it. He said although the zoning was changed, it could be reversed if the situation warranted.
Ayers declined to disclose his property holdings in Hanford but will release them when he files his required campaign disclosure statements.
Mark Pratter is a founding member of “saveourparkland93230,” a group formed to save the undeveloped 18 acres of Hidden Valley Park.