An appointment to replace a member of the Buellton City Council was declared null and void after officials discovered it would violate a state law, so the council may call for an election to fill the seat.

Buellton has had three council members resign in less than a year due to job relocations, which City Manager Marc Bierdzinski said “has never happened before in the city’s history.”

Each time, the city followed its standard procedure under Government Code Section 36512 of calling for applicants and conducting interviews to quickly appoint a successor, Bierdzinski said.

The first appointment came April 13, 2017, when David King was chosen to replace Dan Baumann. That was followed June 22, 2017, when Art Mercado was tapped to take the seat vacated by John Connolly. The terms for both seats will expire this year.

At its Feb. 8 meeting, the council appointed John Dorwin to fill the seat vacated in December by Foster Reif, whose term would have expired in 2020.

However, after making the decision, city officials discovered Government Code Section 36512(d)(1) states “an appointment shall not be made to fill a vacancy on a city council if the appointment would result in a majority of the members serving on the council having been appointed.”

The third appointment would have violated that state law, so the decision to appoint Dorwin “is null and void and an election will be necessary to fill the third vacancy,” Bierdzinski said.

Council members are scheduled to discuss procedures for filling the vacancy by election when they meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, in the City Council Chambers, 140 W. Highway 246, in Buellton.

This report was compiled by News Editor Mike Hodgson. He can be reached at


News Editor

Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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