By Sam Catanzaro
Flying under the radar in the aftermath of the midterm elections is Santa Monica City Councilmember Tony Vazquez’ victory in the race for a spot State Board of Equalization representing the 3rd District. Vazquez, who has served on City Council since 2012, beat out G. Rick Marshall, capturing 70 percent of the vote. With this victory, Vazquez’ future as a member of Santa Monica City Council is uncertain.
According to California law, individuals can not hold two offices simultaneously if the respective positions overlap or pose a conflict of interest. The Board of Equalization administers California’s sales, use, alcohol, fuel, tobacco and other taxes, collecting fees that fund specific state programs. Whether or not carrying out these duties as a Board member is currently undetermined.
According to Miranda Inglesia, Public Information Coordinator for the City of Santa Monica, City Attorney Lane Dilig is seeking guidance from California’s Office of Attorney General on the legality of holding both offices simultaneously.
“There are three avenues by which a determination can be reached as to whether two offices are incompatible,” Inglesia told the Santa Monica Mirror. “The officeholder can voluntarily relinquish the first-held position. The Attorney General can provide a legal opinion providing authoritative guidance on whether offices are incompatible. Or a person who believes two offices to be incompatible can request permission from the Attorney General to file a quo warranto action in court to remove a person from the first-held office.”
The Mirror reached out to Vazquez asking if he plans on stepping down, but he has not responded at the present time.
If City Officials determine Vazquez is ineligible to hold both offices, it would be up to City Council to choose whether to appoint a new member or hold a special election to replace his seat, according to the City Clerk.