Persistence in his efforts to be of service to the city of Buellton finally paid off for Marcilo Sarquilla when the City Council appointed the longtime resident and school board member to a vacancy on the Planning Commission.
Sarquilla was affirmed for the vacancy by a 4-0 voice vote Thursday night, with Councilman Foster Reif absent.
A 23-year resident of Buellton, he will join Chairman Brian Dunstan, Vice Chairman Joe Padilla and members Dan Heedy and Patty Hammel on the commission.
In addition to serving on the Buellton Union School District board since 1999, Sarquilla served on the Buellton Parks Commission in 2014. He is currently employed as a systems analyst for the city of Lompoc, where he’s been a member and president of the Lompoc Employees Development Association since 2010.
The City Council was faced with two vacancies on the commission last July after Commissioner Morgen McLaughlin stepped down and Commissioner Art Mercado was appointed to fill a vacancy on the City Council.
Council members filled one vacant seat July 27 when they appointed Hammel to a term expiring in December 2020, but they chose to extend the application period for the other seat until Aug. 31.
City Manager Marc Bierdzinski told the council the city did not receive any new applications for the position but did receive applications from two people who previously sought the appointment — Sarquilla and Michael Pointer.
Council members planned to interview the two and make a selection Thursday, but that process became moot that afternoon.
“Michael Pointer contacted me late this afternoon and has withdrawn from consideration,” Bierdzinski told the council.
That left Sarquilla a shoo-in for the seat.
“I want to thank you for your continued perseverance,” Mayor Holly Sierra told Sarquilla, who tried several times to gain a City Council seat.
He unsuccessfully ran for the council in November 2016 in a three-way race won by Reif.
Then in April, Sarquilla and two others applied for a council seat left vacant when Dan Baumann stepped down to move out of the area. The council selected Dave King instead.
Sarquilla intended to try for a council seat again, along with three other applicants, in June when John Connolly resigned due to his increasing responsibilities with the National Guard.
But he subsequently withdrew his application because a vacancy had opened on the Buellton Union School District board, where he had served continuously since 1999, and he decided that it was not a good time to leave the board.
Sarquilla noted Thursday that since his seat on the Planning Commission is an appointed position, he won’t have to step down from the school board and was looking forward to serving both.
“I’ve been in Buellton here for 20 years or more,” Sarquilla told the council. “I remember when Avenue of Flags and (Highway) 246 was two stop signs. My wife would stop at one and go through the other.
“We prayed at that time we’d have an evolution and get the stop lights and Avenue of the Flags would grow and be more like it is today,” he continued. “And I know we have more plans to evolve, and not just Avenue of Flags and 246 but the whole town, and I want to be part of that process.”
Sierra asked Sarquilla what other areas of the city he has an interest in and how he envisioned the city in 10 years.
“In 10 years? Well, the area over there by Ellen’s, I see that developing,” he said. “And like a lot of people in town, I’m worried a little bit about parking. I want to see as things evolve and grow, that we also have enough parking for these facilities.”
Sarquilla said he has read the city’s five-year plan but will need to brush up on it.
“And yeah, I agree with you I want to keep a small town, but organized,” he said, adding the city is a little “bottlenecked” with Highway 246 and Avenue of Flags. “But if we keep looking at it and studying it, we can make it work and deal with what we have.”
He added, “You’ve got to have people who want the right thing for Buellton and get it done.”
Asked why he thought people wanted him to seek the seat, Sarquilla said he thinks it’s because of doing a great job on the school board, keeping an eye on the district’s finances, building a second school and partnering with the city on the recreation center.
“We want things better for our kids and better for our families, and that’s what I’m all about.”