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Vista councilman accuses mayor of being 'unfit,' trying to 'silence' him

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Outright name-calling could be heard from the dais in this evening's final City of Vista council meeting for 2013.

From the agenda two discussion items seemed to draw the most passionate response from Councilmember Cody Campbell: the selection of a Deputy Mayor (Aguilera, who served as such once before) and the annual appointment of council members to official boards and committees.

Mr. [John] Aguilera has already served in this capacity in his first year, Campbell stated. "I think it is an issue we should examine closer."

Bringing up the examples of Escondido and Oceanside, Campbell said "...because of protocol and common sense" he believed allowing other council members "to represent" would be better for Vista.

In her response, Mayor Ritter stated, "It's been done this way for a number of years."

Appointments

Mayor Judy Ritter announced she had made a few changes in appointments, and Councilmember Amanda Rigby now would be her choice for serving on SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments) replacing Councilmember Dave Cowles. That term would begin in January 2014.

Councilman Campbell had this to say:

"So ok ... here we are today and yet you 've decided you don't want me on any single position or liason to any committee in the entire city's appointment list. This will not stand in this community, it is unexcusable and it is a total farce. How dare you think that the 7,000 plus residents of this city who voted to elect me to this position ... will not notice that you're trying to do this! It isn't right, and no one in this north county city has a political nerve to pull some stunt like this! "

From the SANDAG website, it states:

"As a major newsmaker in the San Diego region, SANDAG programs, projects, and perspectives are consistently featured in local, national, and even international media."

Apparently it is perceived as being a better appointment than was the Vista Village Business Association, a position to which Councilman Campbell had been appointed by the mayor in his first year.

When Mayor Ritter called on Councilman Campbell to speak on the matter, among his remarks was this::

"Well, first off we're going to have a little talk on this matter; it may take a little bit of time. But-- these appointments, I'm going to make very clear in public what's going on here. It's a political maneuver that other cities haven't even dared touch - their mayors in those cities - even in Oceanside with all of the rancorous meetings that they have and disagreements -- never was what you're trying to pull right now."

Campbell stated that the Mayor's appointments were intended to "silence" anyone who was not her own personal pick, and also complained that the two positions each which he and Councilmember Rigby received were "irrelevant" and he considered them to be "sideline items."

Councilwoman Rigby stated that she was quite happy to have been appointed to the League of California Cities, and she did not feel she had been appointed to something "irrelevant."

Commenting that he believed the Vista Village Business Association had "severe issues," Campbell said that he had actually informed City Manager Patrick Johnson that he would not be attending those meetings anymore because they "bash" the City of Vista and "are driven" by ex-councilman Frank Lopez who was a person which the Mayor "personally didn't agree with or get along with at all."

In response, Mayor Ritter said, "First of all, I am not trying to silence you. When I put people on committees, I ususally check attendance."

Ritter noticed Campbell had only attended two of 11 meetings. "You went to two," she told Campbell, "in February and March."

And the Mayor let loose with an accusation of her own.

She then accused Campbell of making disparaging remarks of his own, now that he is running for mayor.

Campbell suggests a leadership class

When he had another opportunity to speak, Campbell stated he wanted to respond to her:

"I am not making disparaging remarks against the city. ... I am making disparaging remarks against you and your unfit leadership of this city, which doesn't exist. Maybe you need to take a leadership class i dont know."

He added maybe politics wasn't "her thing," and reminded everyone that there is an election upcoming, and he believed that "this is not the sort of government people want."

To which Councilman Aguilera quipped: "Is the campaign over, can we vote?"

Councilmember Dave Cowles cautioned Campbell about "insulating yourself as someone working against the rest of the council," and also mentioned "none of us ran on a ticket of overthrowing City Hall."

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