By Victoria Martinez
The Buellton City Council thought it had filled a vacant seat by appointing local attorney John Dorwin on Feb. 8 but announced four days later that it would need to fill the seat by election.
The council is expected to discuss the next necessary steps at its Feb. 22 meeting.
The council voted 2-1-1 on Feb. 8 to appoint Dorwin to fill the seat vacated by Foster Reif, who moved from town when he accepted a new job. Other applicants interviewed, who each received a single vote, were longtime Buellton residents Judith Dale and Shannon Sadecki. Dorwin was appointed after receiving votes from Councilmen Art Mercado and Ed Andrisek.
After the meeting, however, the city attorney discovered a government code section that states that an appointment cannot be made to fill a City Council vacancy if it would result in the majority of the council members having been appointed rather than elected.
Because three council members have resigned in less than a year due to job relocations — Dan Baumann in April 2017 and John Connolly in June 2017 in addition to Reif in January 2018 — appointing Dorwin would have violated state law.
Councilmembers Mercado and Dave King were appointed to fill Baumann’s and Connolly’s vacancies.