Visalia City Council opts to appoint replacement for Cox seat

Visalia City Council voted at a special meeting on June 30 to appoint a resident of District 1 to the late Vice Mayor Phil Cox’ seat. The vote was 4-0.

“The decision needs to be made by August 13.” said Leslie Caviglia, Visalia’s future city manager.  Caviglia said not all the details have been ironed out but that prospective candidates can start submitting their cover letters and resumes starting next week. She said there will be an approximate three-week window for candidates to apply.

District 1 cuts through the middle of Visalia bordered by Akers Street to the west, Mooney Boulevard to the east and Riverway Drive to the north and Whitendale Avenue to the south.

According to Randy Groom, the soon to retire city manager, the city council members discussed three options for filling the vacant seat. They could call for a November 2021 special election, but the council felt the timeline for such an election would be too rushed and the city might miss out on some quality candidates.

The second option was to call an April 2022 special election, but that would have left the council with only four members for almost a year and leave District 1 unrepresented. In the event of a 2-2 vote important issues facing the council could not be resolved.

According to Groom, a tentative timeline has been set to have residents of District 1 apply to fill the seat by July 27. The city council will then hold one or two days of interviews the first week in August, depending on how many people apply.

The appointed replacement will not serve the length of Cox’ term but would only hold the seat until the regularly scheduled municipal election in November 2022. The seat will then be on the November of 2022 ballot as a two-year term.

According to Caviglia the last time the city had to make an appointment to the council was in June of 2011 when Councilmember Mike Lane resigned to take a job with Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California. The council voted to appoint former council member Don Sharp to fill his seat until an election.

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