VACAVILLE — Vacaville Mayor Steve Hardy’s controversial December decision to cut the term of office for the vice mayor from two years to one year will go before the public for discussion when the City Council reconvenes on Jan. 22.
Tuesday night, two residents accused Hardy of violating the Brown Act on Dec. 11 when the mayor changed the term of vice mayor’s term of office from two to one years without adequately stating on the meeting agenda that the action was being considered.
The Brown Act guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of governmental agencies.
“It should have been on the agenda,” said resident Linda Bruzzone. “The term of office should not have been set on the nomination of an individual.”
Hardy’s move did not violate the Brown Act, according to Vacaville City Attorney Jerry Hobrecht, who said there was no set term of office for vice mayor laid out by law or city ordinance.
“It has just been a custom or practice,” Hobrecht said.
City Councilman Curtis Hunt asked that the matter be put on the council’s Jan. 22 agenda to address the concerns of the public about the City Council’s transparency regarding its decision making.
The controversy started last month when Hardy and Councilwoman Dilenna Harris clashed over Hardy’s move to change the traditional term of office.
Hardy combined his nomination of Harris as the city’s new vice mayor with a move to change that position’s term of office, a move Harris did not agree with, saying it should have been discussed by the council as a group beforehand. Harris also called the move discriminatory.
Until then, Vacaville’s vice mayors were appointed by majority vote to serve two terms. Council members Ron Rowlett and Curtis Hunt had served two-year terms. Up to then, neither Harris nor Councilman Mitch Mashburn served as vice mayor.
Hardy said he wanted to make the change to allow more council members a chance to serve as vice mayor, which would allow them to run the council meetings if the mayor could not be present. If Harris’ vice mayoral term of office stays at a single year, it would give Mashburn the opportunity to serve as vice mayor in the final year before he has to decide whether to run for a second term of office.
Harris said she appreciated the nomination, but could not convince Hardy to take a step back on his one-year term of office proposal. When it came to a vote on Harris’ nomination to serve the one-year term, she agreed to it with a reluctant “yes” vote.
On Tuesday night, Harris thanked those who showed up and reiterated her stand that “discussion should be part of the process.”