Finalists named for vacant Heights Council position

By Christopher Park
La Habra Journal

La Habra Heights held a special council meeting on Oct. 18, discussing the qualifications of applicants seeking a position for city council, taking the place of former member Howard Vipperman.

Eight applicants submitted their nomination for the position, with five making the cut to the interview process on Oct. 25. The five applicants were Michael Higgins, Rafael Fernandez, William Phelps, Jane Williams and Larry Black.
Minor resistance was met regarding only choosing five out of the eight candidates for interview, however.

“It is my opinion and my opinion only, that all the candidates should be interviewed” said Mayor Pro-Tem Roy Francis “They went to the trouble of applying for this position; they went to the trouble of filling out the paperwork.”

A motion was put out to interview all eight candidates on the day of the interview, but quickly failed to pass. However, council member Brian Bergman stated that the limit of five candidates was to not be a set number.

“Whatever we determine that number to be, we don’t have to exercise that number as a true statement.” said Bergman.
After the nominees were selected, the method of interviewing was discussed, with the conclusion being the questions would not be given to interviewees before the process,

and would instead divide five minutes of impromptu questioning from each council member.

One point of contention brought up was the road tax, which would tax La Habra Heights citizens to maintain its roads. It was swiftly put down by the majority of citizens last month and was an issue that a concerned speaker believed could be reintroduced once more if a nominee who voted for the road tax was granted a seat on the council.

“If you were to appoint one of these individuals that voted yes, in theory you would have another opportunity to put it back to the people,” said George Edwards “The people have already said they don’t want the road tax. They want you to find an alternate funding for road improvements.”

Edwards also brought Higgins’, editor of La Habra Heights Life, nomination into question.

“When the water rate increased, there was very little mention about it,” Edwards said. “Could it have been because his wife was on the water board?”

Higgins responded to this assertion, stating that he attempts to keep La Habra Heights Life from being involved in any politics of the city and the community.

“I put the facts of the situation, I publish those, and I put the outcome of whatever is resolved because that’s another fact of how it’s going be at the end,” he explained. “I don’t want to get in the middle of the issues; that’s not our place.”

Despite any vocal concerns for any of the nominees or the current issues at hand, all five nominees will be publicly interviewed on Oct. 25, with elections occurring on Nov. 8.


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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.