ONTARIO — As the Ontario City Council gets ready to appoint a person to the vacant City Council seat during its first regular meeting of the month tonight, the newspaper sought to clarify whether all applicants turned their application in by the actual deadline, per a news tip on Monday that one came in afterward.
Applicants include Charlotte Cablay, James Grissett, McShane Erlebach and Susann Mills. Cydney Cooke and Adrianna Contreras, who had turned in their application by the Aug. 18, deadline withdrew their applications, according to City Recorder Tori Barnett.
Mills’ application was said to have been sent in by the Aug. 18 deadline via fax. Barnett had previously told the newspaper that the fax for Susann Mills’ application wasn’t discovered until the morning of Aug. 23.
Barnett also previously told the newspaper a few days before, that the deadline to submit materials to the city was by 4 p.m. Aug. 18, as applications had to be brought to City Hall, which closes at 4 p.m. daily.
A time deadline was not printed in the advertisement; however neither was a fax number, the only contact information provided was the City Hall’s physical address.
However, City Manager Adam Brown on Monday afternoon pointed out that a fax number is provided on the city’s application for board or commission appointment, inferring that because of this a fax could come in later during the day on a deadline.
The newspaper reached out to Mills, who has previously served on the City Council. Mills said during a phone interview on Monday that she sent in her application at 9:30 p.m. Aug. 18, which nearly matches the fax timestamp of 21:26 (or 9:26 p.m.). Mills also said she talked to Barnett about her application a day “or so” after having sent her fax, and that she and Barnett spoke about how the newspaper advertisement did not have a time deadline, but that her fax would be OK.
“It’s a conspiracy theory,” Brown stated of the idea that the city took an application after deadline.
He said the “conspiracy” stems from the Diversity Advisory Committee, which brought the matter up at its last meeting.
It is noteworthy that a Sept. 10 letter from that committee is included in the council packet for its meeting tonight to be considered when it takes up the matter of appointing someone to the vacant seat.
That letter states that the committee upon reviewing the candidate presentations is recommending Grissett for the position. Grissett is a Black man who has applied to be on the council, and the committee states that diversity on the council is a priority, and as such “the next council member should increase the communities’ feeling of inclusion and representation.”
Committee members include Chairwoman Julie Hernandez, Janet Komoto, Billy Carter, Maria Romero and Paul Cheney.
Brown said he found it more interesting that nobody expressed concerned over Cablay’s application, as she hasn’t lived in the city for the required length of time — one year — established by the charter in order to serve.
The term for the vacant seat, previously held by Freddy Rodriguez, who was recalled by electors in July, is through Dec. 13, 2022.
Interviews for the vacancy took place at the Aug. 24 meeting. During its July 27 meeting, the council decided it would also gather public feedback from citizen comments regarding the candidate interviews on its Facebook page, where its meetings are broadcast live. The council said it would then consider the feedback on those candidates “for a couple weeks,” with the aim of picking an applicant at its Sept. 14 meeting.
While no comments were made on the breakout video the city, in the initial video for the Aug. 24 meeting — which did include candidate interviews — most of the commenters leaned toward Grissett, with one commenting favorably about Erlebach.