Diamond Bar has to fill Chang’s vacant council seat

Bye-bye Ling-Ling. Diamond Bar City Council has to decide how to fill Ling-Ling Chang’s seat now that she has been sworn into the California Assembly.

Council has 60 days to take action to fill the remaining three years in Chang’s term, which expires in November of 2017. They plan to discuss the matter in tonight’s council meeting.

“We can appoint someone to fill her seat or call for a special election,” explained Mayor Pro Tem Steve Tye.

The city has faced similar situations on five previous occasions. It decided to appoint a replacement four times, while calling for a special election in 2005.

Since Los Angeles County will not be holding an election in June, Diamond Bar can’t consolidate the special election with the county as it does with the regular municipal elections in November. The city would have to pay for all the costs, including election materials and equipment, ballots, precinct workers and vote tabulations.

“Should the city council choose to call an election to fill the seat vacated by former council member Chang, it is estimated the city would incur election-related costs of approximately $150,000,” said Deputy City Manager Ryan McLean in a report.

These costs would be in addition to the costs for the regular election in November.

“I’m leaning toward appointing someone to fill the position because of the high costs for a special election,” Tye said. “People elect us to make difficult decisions, so I think we should interview candidates and appoint someone ourselves.”

City council isn’t legally obligated to even advertise the vacancy, seek applicants or interview them before appointing someone to fill the council seat. Council may choose any process it feels is appropriate.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story VACANCY.

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