By Raiza Giorgi
Former Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Thomas took his oath of office for his new role as Councilman for the Solvang City Council at a special meeting on Nov. 30. Thomas took over the remaining two year term for the ousted councilman Chris Djernaes, who was recalled in the November General Election.
The special meeting only took 11 minutes, in which the four council members voted 3-1 adopting a resolution of the outcome of Measure P2020 vote to recall Djernaes. Councilman Daniel Johnson voted against it.
Djernaes was recalled with 86.9 percent of the votes certified by the Santa Barbara County Elections Office.
Solvang Mayor Ryan Toussaint asked staff if anyone had ever been recalled with that many votes before, to which City Manager Xenia Bradford said not during her tenure. Toussaint then asked City Attorney Chip Wullbrandt if he remembered election code saying, ” I think there’s something in there about a council member being served and usually they shape up before being shipped out?”.
Wullbrandt responded usually a council member served with a recall usually corrects their behavior with the citizens and recalls typically don’t get very far.
“In this instance, you had a circumstance where the recallee doubled down on that, the activity the citizens had complained about,” Wullbrandt said.
The recall effort stated in their filing paperwork that Djernaes’ actions and statements have shown “a blatant disregard for the Ralph M. Brown (Open Meetings) Act and the council’s protocols regarding simple rules of common courtesy.”
Before the resolution was passed Toussaint jokingly asked Djernaes’ empty chair if he had something to comment.
Thomas took his new seat and said he would save comments for a later date. He ended up posting what he was planning to say to the Solvang Strong Facebook group.
“Tonight’s event, however, should be a reminder that the citizens of this community, not its elected leaders, have the final say in the policy and direction of the city,” Thomas said.
“There may be times when we disagree, but I pledge to listen, study, and work hard to make decisions that are in the best interest of this wonderful city. To the former and current staff and employees of Solvang. . . you know, sometimes, the best way forward is a few steps back. I appreciate all your good thoughts and look forward to working WITH you for the future of Solvang,” he continued.
Djernaes was not present at the meeting.
To watch the meeting in its entirety visit the City’s YouTube page.