The Sunnyvale City Council has opted to make an appointment to fill the seat left open by former Councilmember Mason Fong — a move that will save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.
On Monday evening, the council voted unanimously to use the appointment process in February instead of holding a special election, which city officials estimated could cost anywhere from roughly $227,000 to more than $3 million depending on when the election would be held.
Fong, who was elected to the council in 2018, resigned earlier this month after being appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to serve as his deputy director of external affairs for northern California.
The timing of his resignation played a role in the council’s decision on Monday — especially in light of the city moving its three remaining at-large seats into districts. The appointee selected to replace Fong will serve through the end of next year.
“I think having the community focus on district elections specifically is a critical thing that’s happening in 2022,” Mayor Larry Klein said. “We’re finally transitioning the rest of the council seats into district elections so to have an at-large election in the middle of the year or at some time in the year to me, it causes more confusion at the end of the day.”
Besides the move to district elections, Councilmember Gustav Larsson said the council is expecting to make decisions on a number of key issues early next year, including finalizing the maps for redistricting.
“All those decisions would be made before we could possibly have a special election and have that council member seated,” he said. “So the only way to have a seventh council member for those important decisions is to make an appointment. If we were to have an election say around June, I think that would create a lot of churn, to have an appointed council member for a few months and then an elected council member for a few months.”
The council is slated to officially declare Fong’s seat vacant at the Dec. 14 meeting and make an appointment some time between Feb. 3 and 12.