El Cajon residents want say in who fills vacant City Council seat

Seat vacated by now-Interim Mayor Bill Wells

EL CAJON, Calif. - A group in El Cajon is asking the City Council to let voters decide who will fill the council seat vacated by Interim Mayor Bill Wells.

The Neighborhood Market Association sent a letter to Wells, saying voters should decide, not the council.

"The citizens of El Cajon should decide who their next representative is, it shouldn't be a back door deal," said Mark Arabo, president of the Neighborhood Market Association.

Wells was voted in as mayor after Mark Lewis resigned after making what many consider racist comments about Chaldeans and other minority groups in El Cajon.

In the letter, the association asks Wells and the City Council to appoint a new council member for only one year. Wells had three years left in his term.

"Appoint for one year and do an election," Arabo said.

10News asked Wells if he'd consider that, but he said not so fast.

"We don't really have the opportunity to do that; We have two choices, either appoint somebody to fill out the term or have a special election in June," Wells said.

Wells cited Section 36512(a) of the state code, which says the person appointed by the council should serve the remainder of the unexpired term.

"For us to have a council that's not at full strength, full capacity right now really doesn't make any sense, especially when we have good applicants that would be able to fill the spot," Wells said.

If the council doesn't consider a special election, Arabo said he and his colleagues will move forward with a petition.

"If they don't do that and if they don't do district-wide elections we will do a charter amendment to the city charter and let the citizens vote. We'll get signatures, we'll do a campaign and let the citizens vote," Arabo said.

The council is expected to interview candidates and could likely appoint a new council member at the next council meeting.

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