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Winkler vacancy process ongoing

Posted: September 20, 2013 6:54 p.m.
Updated: September 20, 2013 6:54 p.m.

SANTA CLARITA - It’s been about three months since the seat of Saugus district board member Stephen Winkler was declared vacant, but the decision to do so is still undergoing a lengthy state review.

The district’s filing on the Winkler matter is now undergoing review by the California Attorney General’s office, according to Saugus Union School District board President Judy Umeck.

District officials moved to hold a special election to fill the seat in July but were told they had to hold “quo warranto” proceedings before doing so, according to officials.

A quo warranto proceeding is a process where an entity or individual can attempt to remove a person from office, said Nick Pacilio, a spokesman for the California Attorney General’s office.

During that proceeding, those involved in the matter have a chance to weigh in and present evidence, he said.

“Then our office evaluates all the material and decides whether or not to give the filing party permission to file a quo warranto petition in a superior court,” he wrote in an email. “If no: end of matter. If yes: (the) matter proceeds in court.”

From there, the process and the decision are in the hands of the court, he wrote.

Pacilio said the person who has been served with notice of the quo warranto has 15 days to respond.

Umeck said even getting to that point has taken some time as the district had to consult and file documentation with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s office.

“That’s where we are now because each of those requires a different set of paperwork,” she said.

Winkler’s seat was declared vacant in June after evidence surfaced that he may live in Sylmar, outside the boundaries of the Saugus district, and was therefore ineligible to hold his seat.

Reached by phone Friday, Winkler confirmed he was notified of the quo warranto proceedings on Wednesday.

“I’m going to call the Attorney General’s office and ask what they need from me to prove my residency,” he said.

Winkler maintains he lives in Valencia, not Sylmar, and that he has documentation of that fact.

He said he would readily return to the board if allowed, but that he has not attended any board proceedings since his seat was vacated because he didn’t want to cause a stir.

“I don’t want to raise a commotion but I’m available to serve out my term,” he said.

Winkler acknowledged that his departure from the board was contentious; saying he felt like a “bull in the middle of a Tijuana bull ring” when members of the public turned out to demand his resignation or removal from the board earlier this year.

But he said he does not harbor any ill feelings toward the other board members and does not think any lingering resentment would be a detriment to him serving on the board again.

“I have good motives even though the board members do not think I have good motives,” he said. “And I think they voted out of good motives and I’m sorry they don’t believe I had good motives.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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