State attorney general affirms Compton council appointment

By Emilie St. John

Contributing Writer

COMPTON — California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a legal opinion on Jan. 26 regarding the appointment of Diedra Duhart to the Compton City Council after a resident filed a challenge to the appointment.

Long-time Compton resident Lynn Boone sought the right to sue over the appointment of Duhart to the District 1 council seat. Boone sought to have Duhart removed from the seat alleging she didn’t receive the requisite number of votes to be appointed.

Duhart was nominated during the April 5, 2022 meeting on a 2-1-1 vote.

Boone said that Compton City Attorney Eric Perrodin erred in upholding the appointment during the next City Council meeting April 12.

Perrodin provided his legal opinion on the matter, which upheld the appointment.

“The vote to appoint Deidre Duhart to fill the vacant District 1 Council seat was 2:1 in the affirmative with one abstention which constitutes a majority of the council persons in favor of the appointment,” Perrodin said. “Due to the fact the charter is silent on the required number of affirmative votes necessary to fill a vacancy, it is my opinion as the city attorney of Compton that Deidre Duhart has been duly appointed to fill the vacant council seat in District 1.

“The framers of our city charter were silent on the number of affirmative votes necessary to fill a vacant seat but they were very clear that in order to have a legal council meeting to conduct business … at least three council members must be present,” Perrodin added. “The vote to appoint Deidre Duhart to the vacant District 1 seat is exactly a scenario the framers of our charter envisioned where mere majority of the council members voting would prevail. This analysis draws from standardized and routinely applied rules for interpreting statutory construction and legislative intent.”

In Boone’s filing with Bonta’s office, she cited Section 607 of the Compton City Charter which requires at least three affirmative votes to appoint a council member. She also argued that Perrodin’s declaring Duhart’s appointment as valid was improper.

Bonta found that Section 505 addressed also spoke of the number of votes to fill an appointment.

“Compton’s Charter provides that the City Council shall fill a vacancy in any elective office by appointment. … Section 505 states that a vacancy shall be filled by appointment. … The provision is silent on the number of votes required.”

 “Boone asserts that Section 607, which addresses ordinances and resolutions and orders for payment of money requires three affirmative votes for the appointment. … The relevant part of Section 607 is unless a higher vote is required by other provisions of this charter.”

The April 5, 2022 council agenda listed the appointment as a discussion/action and not as either an ordinance or resolution as outlined in Section 607.

Bonta determined the charter cannot reasonably be read as requiring three affirmative votes to appoint a council member and found no substantial legal issue to the validity of Duhart’s appointment.

Boone’s request to sue was denied.

 

Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at emiliesaintjohn@gmail.com.

 

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