The Castaic Area Town Council has a special election planned for July 20, amid accusations of “mismanagement” by a former member, and an apparent lack of interest from local residents.
The deadline is Friday for those who would like to announce their intention to throw their hat in the ring, according to an email blast that was sent out by council members.
The Castaic Area Town Council is an advisory board that President Flo Lawrence described as essentially an elected group of community-oriented volunteers who advise the Los Angeles County of local concerns and organize community events.
“Anyone who’s interested in the town council has noticed we’ve had empty seats for a couple of months,” Lawrence said, noting that he hasn’t heard much in the way of hopeful candidates.
“I’m eager to talk to anyone who wants to get involved,” he added.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Lawrence said he was only aware of one candidate.
Marty Kriesler, a Castaic resident and businessman who’s been active in several nonprofits, said he heard about the opening a few months ago and wanted to get more involved in his community.
He plans to run in the July 20 election and said he’s known about the opening for a while.
“It’s been out there for about three months,” Kriesler said. “The Council sends an email when the newsletter is ready to come out.”
Kriesler owns his own business as a registered investment adviser, and said he’s been a member of the Castaic Lions Club, a community organization that also hosts volunteer activities.
However, former CATC vice president Vanessa Brookman said the lack of candidates has come from the board not following its own bylaws in respect to hosting the election.
The election will take place Saturday, July 20, at the Castaic Chamber of Commerce from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., acccording to a Castaic Area Town Council.
The Chamber of Commerce is located at 31744 Castaic Road, Suite 103.
But public notice and procedure have not been adequate, she said.
Brookman was on the advisory board, a 10-member group that reports the interests of the Castaic area to Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, from 2007 to 2010.
“I just said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on a minute,’” Brookman said. “I’m reaching out to them because this isn’t right.”
The bylaws spell out the procedure for holding an election, which include appointing a chairman for an election committee, which hasn’t been followed, Brookman said.
There’s also the timing of the announcement, Brookman said, who hadn’t heard anything about the election until a couple of stories were published at the end of June.
“I think it’s a definite matter of mismanagement,” Brookman said, adding that she didn’t think anyone was being intentionally deceitful.
She acknowledged that there is, from experience, generally not much of an audience at the meetings, adding that often, there’s only a crowd when’s there’s an issues that affects a large portion of the area.
But that’s part of why making a push for notification was so important, she added.
“There’s very little going on in the northwest side of the community these days,” Brookman said. “Nothing’s new, so everything’s just kind of status quo. The last time there was any kind of turnout was the (Interstate 5) toll lane proposal.”
The meetings are regularly attended by about a dozen agencies and committees that represent interests in the area, such as the California Highway Patrol, which report back to Antonovich’s office.
The council is split into five geographic districts that are explained on the organization’s website.
The two regions that are seeking appointments are Region 1 and Region 5.
Region 1 includes the communities of Live Oak, North Bluffs, Hillcrest Park, Hasley Hills and the Valencia Commerce Center.
Region 5 includes Double C Ranch, Hidden Lake, Stonegate, NorthLake, Castaic east of I5 and north of Lake Hughes Road.
The $50 filing fee for the seat was declared in May.
Both seats would be occupied until the winning candidate in the November 2014 election is sworn in January of 2015, Lawrence said.
The school district’s office is located 28131 Livingston Ave. in the Valencia Commerce Center.
A candidate can personally deliver the letter and filing fee to Lawrence, any council member or mail an application to Castaic Area Town Council Inc.. PO Box 325 Castaic, CA 91310.