Following the publication of our article on the Dec. 10 city council meeting District 1 Councilmember Jesse Chavez contacted the Highland Community News to give the basis of his accusations during that night's session.
As the city council entered its discussion about the 2020 mayor Councilman Jesse Chavez was the first person to make a nomination by nominating himself for mayor saying, “that 51 percent of our residents are Latino, the median age is 34,” and that “20 percent (of the population) lives in poverty.” Chavez went on to ask the council for their “honest, ethical vote,” for him to be mayor of the city.
Councilman John Timmer then nominated McCallon who served as mayor pro tem in 2019.
With the nominations closed the council then voted 3-2 voted in favor of McCallon. McCallon, Timmer and past-Mayor Penny Lilburn voted for McCallon. Chavez and Councilwoman Anaeli Solano were the two dissenting votes.
Right after the nameplates were changed an argument broke out between Mayor Pro Tem Penny Lilburn and Councilman Jesse Chavez. Chavez made an accusation that the city council “violated the Brown Act.” He then stated, “The city of Highland violates the Civil Rights Act over and over again, this is just another example and I am very disappointed.”
On Thursday, Dec. 12, Chavez contacted this publication offering to submit a written statement to explain his accusations, which he sent on Dec. 17.
When asked why his statement did not provide a basis for his accusation that the city council violated the Civil Rights Act he stated that he misspoke in regards to the accusation.
Chavez said that he “meant to say that the city violates the Voter Rights Act.”
Chavez was asked to provide basis for this accusation and he did not respond in time for this issue’s print deadline, Dec. 24.
On the other accusation regarding the Brown Act, Chavez’ statement says he asked then-Mayor Penny Lilburn on Friday, Nov. 1, to join him for a lunch meeting to discuss what he thought was “the apparent divisiveness on the council,” and “discussing our lives and vision for the city.”
He said “It seemed like we were making some headway and I appreciated the candid conversation we had.” Then he said they “spoke about who was going to represent and serve as the mayor for the 2019-2020 term.”
Chavez then “asked her [Lilburn] if she would consider voting for me [Chavez] at the Dec. 10 meeting,” and that Lilburn “indicated that she supported my [Chavez] efforts and that she would consider it.”
Chavez stated that following a bench dedication and picnic for the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá of Highland he asked Lilburn “if she had given some thought about the appointment since it was coming up in just eight days.” Chavez said Liburn responded that she had spoken to Councilmember Larry McCallon and that she had already given her word on the appointment to Larry and that she would be voted in as Mayor Pro Tem.
Chavez then “immediately ended the conversation,” as he thought Lilburn “clearly violated the Brown Act by speaking to a third individual on the council and I [Chavez] quickly informed her of her violation.”
Chavez then contacted the Highland city attorney’s office “to inform them of the violation.”
According Highland City Attorney Maricela Marroquin regarding Chavez’s accusation that the city council violated the Brown Act. She sent a memo to the council before the Dec. 10 session reminding them of their obligations to the Brown Act.
We also contacted Mayor Pro Tem Penny Lilburn regarding Chavez’s statement and she responded, “Perhaps he [Chavez] should retake the [city’s] ethics class.”