The Hughson City Council decided at Monday’s meeting to go with the cheaper and more experienced services of the Stanislaus County Elections Office for the upcoming recall election. The decision came after council members learned that if the city ran their own recall elections the cost could be as high as $57,400; whereas the county said they could run the election for a maximum total cost of $23,000.
The council originally rejected the county’s election services at their April 26 meeting.
One of the councilmen being recalled, Ben Manley, suggested at the April 26 City Council meeting that the 1,000 voters who wanted the recall could each give a donation to fund the election. Regardless of how Manley would prefer the election to be paid for, the City of Hughson is required to fund the recall election of council members Manley, Thom Crowder and Doug Humphreys.
Other options the council looked at for running the election included hiring an Anaheim company for an estimated cost of $51,400; or hiring an Oakland company for an estimated cost of $63,400.
The recall election is set for Aug. 24. Hughson residents will have the opportunity to recall council members Manley, Humphreys and Crowder, who were found to be in violation of the Hughson Municipal Code, the Brown Act and the Fair Political Practices Code and Regulations by a Civil Grand Jury finding released in December 2009.
Hughson residents will be able to vote if they want each of the three council members to be recalled and who they would like to replace their respective seats on the city council in August.
As of Monday, the candidate nomination filing period has begun for Hughson residents who are interested in filling the council seats. The filing period will end at 5 p.m. on June 4.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the Citizens for Better City Government — the citizen group that led the recall movement —announced that they will no longer bring their comments into the council chambers and instead take them onto their campaign trail.
Spokesperson for the Citizens for Better City Government Josh Whitfield clarified the reason for the efforts of the recall election stating it is not because of the council’s support of city employees who alleged they have been part of a hostile work environment, but because of the lack of confidence Hughson residents have in the three council members to run the city.
“You do not get to break the law to prove someone else broke the law,” Whitfield said. “You are not facing recall because you tried to help someone.”
Whitfield also reminded the council that it is the city manager’s job to manage City Hall, and the City Council’s job to manage the city manager; and it is the people’s job to manage the City Council.
Recruiting firm hired for city manager search
The City Council unanimously approved entering into a contract with Peckham and McKinney to search for a new city manager for Hughson. It will cost the city a maximum of $21,000 for their services.
Interim City Manager Thom Clark is expecting the cost to be lower. He said the city has already negotiated down the price by $1,200. Clark said the city is also trying to encourage the recruiting company to tighten up the time limits.
Clark is currently sitting in the interim city manager position, while also fulfilling his responsibilities as director of public works and director of planning/building. Clark is filling in for an absence in the city manager position after the City Council voted to not renew previous City Manager Joe Donabed’s contract. Donabed’s contract ended May 1.
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