Title: Orange Council Forgoes Special Election, Appoints Member To Vacant Seat
Date: April 14, 2021
Author: Chris Karr
“Rather than hold a special election to fill its vacant seat, the City Council of Orange, California, has appointed a new councilmember for District 3.
Kathy Tavoularis, director of community and government relations for the Orange County Auditor-Controller’s Office, will fill the seat vacated by Mike Alvarez following a judge’s ruling that his recent election violated the city’s two-term limit.
The April 13 decision to appoint Tavoularis—rather than hold a special election in November for an estimated cost of $150,000—received criticism from councilwomen Arianna Barrios and Ana Gutierrez, and nearly all of those who offered public comments.
“District 3 voters in Orange were stripped of their democratic privileges for the second time in the past year, and I am deeply troubled by the implications,” Barrios told The Epoch Times via text. “The same individuals who loudly proclaimed no price was too high in support of democracy 18 months ago shamelessly flip-flop to suit their own agendas. I, for one, will continue to fight for transparency and public participation in service of our residents.”
Tavoularis told The Epoch Times she had no concerns being appointed because she is dedicated to the city and residents of Orange.
“I will put my all into helping Orange become better,” she said via email. “I think our first concern is public safety and helping our citizens and businesses navigate back to some sort of normalcy as hopefully COVID concerns decrease.”
…The Council Debate
At the Apr. 13 City Council meeting, the majority perspective changed. The final vote was 4–2, with Barrios and Gutierrez voting against the appointment.
Councilman Chip Monaco said the cost of a special election would be “a terrible waste of taxpayer resources.”
“I just think $10,000 a month for someone to sit up here once a month or twice a month … is an inefficient, ineffective way to spend taxpayer dollars,” he said.
Mayor Mark Murphy agreed. “If we appoint someone now, there are no additional expenses,” he said.
Mayor Pro Tem Kim Nichols said she was conflicted, because she’s a “very strong advocate for the voters.” However, she noted that voter turnout for recent special elections was notably low, citing turnouts as low as 19 percent in 2020 and 13.2 percent in 2015. “So that’s a lot of money for a very small turnout for a short period of time,” she said.
…‘The Right Way’
…Dumitru, who’s known Tavoularis and her family for 20 years, described the new councilwoman as a dedicated member of the community who has resided in Orange for over 35 years. Murphy said she brings a wealth of experience to the position, citing her professional credits and volunteer efforts.
Prior to her current position, Tavoularis was a senior adviser and executive director for the California Delegation to the Republican National Convention. In 2006, she spearheaded a statewide “get out the vote” campaign to reelect Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Tavoularis earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from California State University–Long Beach. She will likely be sworn in to her new position at the council’s next scheduled meeting on April 27.”