Title: Orange City Council Direct Appointment Over Special Election Upsets Residents
Date: April 19, 2021
Author: Angela Hicks
“Kathy Tavoularis loves politics, but she never wanted to run for office. Her friends and family would encourage her to consider public service, but she would usually just brush it off and say she’s just an informed voter. Nothing more.
When her only brother died last October, her mindset changed.
“My brother was a high school teacher at Orange High School for 18 years,” Tavoularis told The Panther, tears brimming in her eyes. “He gave so much to the City of Orange. He’s given us so much. I decided it’s time to give back.”
In response to her brother’s unexpected death and reflecting on his service as a teacher, tennis coach and devoted volunteer for the City of Orange and the Republican Party — as described in a letter from former President Donald Trump’s administration — Tavoularis decided to finally run for office.
After former Orange City Council member Mike Alvarez resigned March 8, Tavoularis decided to apply to fill the vacant District 3 seat. The council voted 4-2 April 13 to appoint Tavoularis over six other applicants, including two who originally ran for the position in November. Tavoularis will serve until November 2022, when the seat will be up for grabs again.
“Whether it’s for 17 months or four years, I’m happy to serve my city,” Tavoularis said.
…“I am looking forward to working with Ms. Tavoularis and tackling numerous issues that are facing the city,” Dumitru wrote in an email to The Panther. “I have known Ms. Tavoularis and her family for around 20 years, and she is a dedicated member of our community with over 35 years of residency within the City of Orange and specifically in District 3.”
…Tavoularis has been involved in government relations, political strategies, advocacy, event management and public relations since 2005. She has worked for various political organizations, including the Republican Party of Orange County, the Republican National Convention, the California Republican Party, the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce and the Orange County Auditor-Controller.
…After watching the meeting, Alvarez said he was pleasantly surprised and praised the council’s decision.
“I was curious to see what the council was going to do,” Alvarez told The Panther. “I was happy to see Kathy’s appointment. That was a nice surprise and a brilliant move by the city council … She is highly educated, she has a high degree of knowledge and experience in government and she has the personality of being approachable to the people of her hometown.”
Even Tavoularis herself was taken aback by the decision, she said.
“I thought at the end of the night we would know if it was an election or if it was an appointment, and I would have to come back in a few weeks for another meeting,” Tavoularis said. “I was wearing a mask, but I think my jaw dropped because of the shock that I didn’t expect anybody’s name to be mentioned, and then it was my name.”
Although most public comments urged the council to consider a special election, the members decided on an appointment to save both time and money. A special election — which by state law couldn’t occur until this November — would cost the city approximately $150,000, since there is no general election this year.
…“A lot of my brother’s students called me and were really happy and said they want to help honor him in Orange,” Tavoularis said. “That’s the reason I did this. I wanted to honor him and all the things Orange meant to him. Orange is a great city, and I say to the citizens: give me a chance; you may like me.”…”