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The Carlsbad City Council will decide whether to make an appointment or hold a special election for both of the city's electoral vacancies after returning from a two-week recess.
The Carlsbad City Council will decide whether to make an appointment or hold a special election for both of the city's electoral vacancies after returning from a two-week recess. File photo
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Carlsbad City Council addresses two electoral vacancies

CARLSBAD — The number of electoral vacancies has doubled in Carlsbad.

Carlsbad City Clerk Barbara Engleson announced on July 29 her retirement effective Aug. 19. And with the Carlsbad City Council on recess for another week, it will be at least two weeks before the council decides whether to appoint someone or call for a special election.

Engleson’s retirement is the second opening for an elected position this month following Cori Schumacher’s abrupt resignation from her council seat, marking the second time in less than two years a District 1 representative has stepped down.

The latest District 1 appointment will mark the third representative since 2018. Any eligible resident of District 1 may submit their application until the 5 p.m. Aug. 11 deadline.

“This is a unique situation,” City Manager Scott Chadwick said. “Think of it as a formal job interview because this is effectively what’s occurring in the public’s eye.”

While the council agreed to appoint a new representative, city officials reversed course during a July 27 meeting regarding how the selection process will play out.

The council will require applications to acknowledge if they are appointed, they will not run for at least one year after the term expires, which would not allow the person to run in 2022.

Additionally, all applications must submit a financial disclosure (Form 700).

During the council’s discussion, which at times bogged down to a debate over whether applicants could meet privately with the current council members and how many questions to ask, the council did approve a measure to not allow applicants to meet with the elected officials.

Mayor Matt Hall said five minutes and a resume are not enough to determine an applicant’s qualifications for a council position. Hall lobbied for the council to schedule interviews with each person to understand an applicant’s position on particular issues and how the individual would fit on the council.

However, he was the lone no vote.

Councilwoman Teresa Acosta said the process must be “transparent” as to conduct the appointment in an open manner.

“In the interest of public transparency, I think that we should not have private interviews because I understand the sentiment in D1 about feeling like they really are not having an opportunity to vote here, and they want to be a part of the selection process as much as possible,” Acosta said. “And for them, that means doing everything in the public eye.”

Residents, meanwhile, are encouraged to submit topics they would like the applicants to address so those may be considered during the Aug. 24 meeting. During that meeting, each applicant will have five minutes to address the council.

From there, council members will write their top five choices and the candidate with the most nominations will be considered for a vote. If the council cannot come to a consensus during its Aug. 24 meeting, there are two other days scheduled for meetings (Aug. 25 and 26) and a potential special meeting on Sept. 2.

As for Engleson, she and her husband are moving out of the city, thus making her ineligible to serve the remaining 16 months of her term. Engleson was appointed in 2013 after Lorraine Wood was elected to the City Council and then won re-election in 2014 and 2018.

Should there be an appointment, Engleson’s replacement must have several requirements. Those include being a resident in the city and registered to vote and either hold a designation of certified municipal clerk from the International Institute of Municipal Clerks; or have two years of full-time, salaried work experience in either business administration or public administration and possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

The responsibilities of the clerk include being the local official for local elections and legislation, in addition to overseeing Public Records Act requests and ensuring the “decision-making process” is transparent and complies with local, state and federal regulations under the Political Reform Act and Brown Act.

“I am very proud of the many ways the City of Carlsbad has promoted government transparency and public engagement, which are critical to our democracy and key functions of the Office of the City Clerk,” Engleson said. “It has been my honor to serve alongside such a dedicated team of professionals.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of the article did not include the full quote. The article has since been updated to include the full quote. We sincerely regret the error.