News

Heights City Council Solidifies Process for Filling Vacancy

By Alex Vallejo
La Habra Journal

The La Habra Heights City Council held a special meeting on September 27 to formally adopt the guidelines that will be implemented to find a replacement for council member Howard Vipperman.
Vipperman announced his resignation at the September 13 council meeting saying that he and his wife will be moving out of their residence in La Habra Heights and to a nearby city. The vacancy is effective October 13.
The city council grappled with the ins and outs of the process that will be used to find a suitable candidate to replace Vipperman. The council voted 4-1 to adopt an interview-based process to appoint a new council member.
The process will kick off on October 2 with an advertising campaign which will direct interested parties to the city council website where community members can get more details and submit their applications. A questionnaire will have candidates provide basic information such as full name, contact information and whether or not they are registered voters in La Habra Heights. In addition, the questionnaire will ask candidates to list any leadership positions they’ve held within the community; as well as a “candidate statement” describing their goals should they be chosen to serve on the city council.
The idea is to focus the efforts on finding a serious, capable and qualified candidate to serve out Vipperman’s term until March 2013 when the election cycle takes place once again.
Some of the concerns expressed by the council were the potential for an overwhelming response from non-qualified applicants or people who may not be serious about the position clogging up the selection process. “If you interview too many people it gets complicated,” said Stan Carroll, La Habra Heights mayor.
The council will hold a special meeting on October 18 to review the submissions. Each council member will then select five applicants that they feel are qualified for the position. A follow up special meeting will then take place October 25 during which the council members will interview the applicants and attempt to reach a consensus once the interview process is complete. Should the council fail to come to an agreement, the vacant seat would be left open until the March 2013 when the municipal elections take place.
Vipperman; however, opposed the idea of setting up interviews to appoint a new council member.
“My motion was that we take the third place finisher in the last city council election. That candidate [Larry Black] received over 500 votes which indicates that he is well received by the community,” Vipperman said. “Let the residents speak,” he added.
Council member Roy Francis echoed some of Vipperman’s concerns, but also took into account the additional monetary toll that holding an election would bring. “The ideal way [to fill Vipperman’s seat] for me would be through elections,” Francis said. “But there may be a cost;” he explained. “A cost to the candidates and a cost to the community,” Francis concluded. He is confident that they will be able to select a qualified replacement with the process that they’ve set in place.
As he departed, Vipperman expressed his confidence that the council will be in good hands. “It’s a very good council and I very much appreciate working with them,” Vipperman said.

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Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.