No Secret Ballots - Residents Await Positive Outcome

The Menifee City Council, amid a hail of grumbles, groans, and occasional cheers, approved an application process to fill the vacant council...

The Menifee City Council, amid a hail of grumbles, groans, and occasional cheers, approved an application process to fill the vacant council seat during their meeting on July 19.

The open process, which was introduced by Councilwoman Darcy Kuenzi, outlined an opportunity for residents to submit applications and have each council member choose three applicants to interview. The chosen applicants would be interviewed in a public forum, only answering questions from the council, but in a public meeting. The council would rank each applicant, turning in a score sheet for each one. After the council completes interviews during an afternoon meeting on August 2, they will take a recess and reconvene later for their regularly scheduled meeting. During that meeting the applicant with the highest score will be appointed by the council.

However, the process was heavily criticized by a small contingency of residents.

The July 20 article in The Californian entitled MENIFEE: City Seeks Applications to Fill Council Post states that "each council member would use a secret ballot to rank their top three choices for the job," which had many residents up in arms. In a second article in The Californian entitled EDITORIAL: Special Election Unacceptable, the writer states, "relying on a secret ranked ballot of council members," only added fuel to the fire for these angry residents. A third angry editorial written by Greg August in The Californian used the word "secret" 7 times. Furthermore, City Hall received a barrage of angry emails regarding their concerns over "secrecy".

However, City Attorney Karen Feld refuted those claims and clarified with this statement; "We are not using secret ballots. They were discussed at the meeting but the city council did not agree on it. The city council gave an overview of how they wanted the process to go and staff was charged with working out the details and technical requirements. We have listened to the residents' concerns and believe that the process will satisfy them. It meets all the legal requirements as well as fitting in line with Council direction. You will find that this process will be as open as possib