The Highland City Council appointed member Larry McCallon as mayor for 2020 with a 3-2 vote during its Dec. 10 session. Penny Lilburn was appointed mayor pro tem.

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 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 fireworks ensued 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.”

He also expressed his disappointment in Lilburn who then responded saying “Jesse, I want you to know, when you came to me I told you I spoke to Larry McCallon on this issue.”

Chavez interjected, “You did not.”

Lilburn then countered, “I did.”

“I’m sorry but you did not,” Chavez raised his voice. “You told me the day of the picnic.”

Lilburn then said, “Jesse, you asked me to come have breakfast with you so you can patch things up with me and at the last minute you asked me if I would support you to be mayor because you wanted to [potentially] be the youngest mayor in [California] history.”

Highland Community News attempted to contact Councilman Chavez regarding the basis of his allegations but did not hear back from him before the print deadline of this issue.

(2) comments


Violating the Brown Act is a violation against all residents of Highland. It creates an unfair advantage to the council who are there to represent the residents of Highland, and to hold discussion on items in a transparent and honest manner at council meeting, and not making decision behind closed doors. The council was recalled a few years ago for violating the Brown Act.

No offense to the author, the transcript in the article is not accurate to what was actually stated in the meeting.

Listen it for yourself here. It starts at 11:27 mins.

This is the transcript:



Betty Hughes (Clerk): “Thank you Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, and City Councilmembers. So, before we do our annual organization for the Mayor, I will open up the floor and nominations can be made. Once I close the floor, we’ll go ahead and take a vote in the order the nominations were made. After that, the mayor will move on with the Mayor Pro Tem. Alright, I open up the floor for nominations for Mayor.”

Councilmember Chavez: “I’ll nominate myself and let me just say why really quick. 51% of our residents here in Highland are Latino. The median age is 34. 20% of our community lives in poverty. I live in that poverty. My family lives in that poverty. So we need someone who can really represent our city. We know that the mayor has no more vote, no more pull than any other council members. All we usually do is go to events. Chair the council meeting. And so, I’m just asking for your honest, ethical vote for me to be Mayor of the city.”

Councilmember Timmer: “I nominate Larry McCallon.”

Betty Hughes: “Any other nominations? Alright. Hearing none, we’ll go ahead and close the floor. All those in favor of Councilmember Chavez?"

Councilmember Solano: “Aye.”

Councilmember Chavez: “Aye.”

Betty Hughes: “I’m hearing two, correct? So, all those in favor of Councilmember McCallon?”

Councilmember McCallon: “Aye.”

Councilmember Timmer: “Aye.”

Councilmember Lilburn: “Aye.”

Betty Hughes: “So hearing three. Congratulations, Mayor McCallon.”

Mayor McCallon: “Ok. Thank you. I appreciate the confidence the council has put in me again for Mayor. I don’t take the position lightly and I’m humbled by your support.”

Councilmember Chavez: “I generally don’t support you, although we knew we violated the Brown Act and I knew that this vote was going to happen anyway. So, I just wanted to give it a chance. We’ve seen that the City of Highland violates the Civil Right Act over and over again. This is just another example of the city not moving forward, and I just very disappointed in this city council, especially you Penny. I’m very disappointed.”

Councilmember Lilburn: “Jesse, I want you to know when you came to me, I told you I spoke to Larry McCallon on this issue.”

Councilmember Chavez: “You did not.”

Councilmember Lilburn: “I did”

Councilmember Chavez: “I’m sorry, but you did not.”

Councilmember Lilburn: “I did. I’m sorry. I did.”

Councilmember Chavez: “You didn’t tell me until the day we were at the picnic, and that when you said Larry gave you the vote [for Mayor Pro Tem]...”

Councilmember Lilburn: “Absolutely.”

Councilmember Chavez: “...and that’s when I said I cannot talk to you anymore because that’s a Brown Act violation and you recommended me to continue to talk to Larry about this vote. So don’t throw it at my Penny. This is your mistake.

Councilmember Lilburn: “You asked me to have breakfast with you so you could patch things up with me...”

Councilmember Chavez: “And I did.”

Councilmember Lilburn: “...and at the last minute, you asked me if I would support you to be Mayor because you wanted to be the youngest mayor in history.”

Councilmember Chavez: “I said I could be potentially the youngest mayor, and not in history, in the state of California. And I still want to build...I don’t want this divisiveness. We know that the city is divided and I’m sick of it.

Councilmember Lilburn: “Hmm, okay.”

Councilmember Chavez: “...and that’s why I went up to you, I said, Penny, we need to stop this. When we got elected in 2016, we came to our party…”

Councilmember Lilburn: “...I felt like Larry’s the best candidate that’s why I just voted with him. Thank you.”

Councilmember Lilburn: “Ok, but I’m trying to talk to you about this Brown Act violation. You violated the Brown Act. Violation! And it's wrong. The only thing that the city attorney did was send out a memo, and I can read that memo, and it says nothing about this. So the community needs to know that we violated the Brown Act. And I’m okay to admit it because you spoke to me and I didn’t know you spoke to Larry.”

Councilmember Lilburn: “Boy, that is incorrect.”

Councilmember Chavez: “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

Mayor McCallon: “Let’s move on. I open up nominations for Mayor Pro Tem. I nominate Penny.”

Councilmember Chavez: “I’ll nominate myself just so we can have a vote."

Mayor McCallon: “Okay. We’ll close nominations. All those in favor of Penny? Aye.”

Councilmember Lilburn: “Aye.”

Mayor McCallon: “All those there a third vote?”

Councilmember Timmer: “Aye.”

Mayor McCallon: "Uh, so 3 to 2. Three votes…”

Councilmember Chavez: “As long as it’s documented.”

Mayor McCallon: “So, Penny is now the Mayor Pro Tem. We’ll move on to item number 2.”

[16:25 mins]

City Dave

And this is another example of why all public meetings need to be on a livestream web feed! Audio recordings only give you a voice. Livestreaming allows us to see facial and body language. Also any pictures, graphics, maps,or any other item shown at the meeting. Councilman Chavez asked to have this funded but was shot down by Councilman McCallon who said that we could listen to the audio instead. Gee why don't we just go ahead and use smoke signals and telegraphs to communicate?

Being we don't have an elected Mayor the honorary position should be rotated with all 5 members. It seems that Larry and Penny have held this position for years. I can not recall the last time Councilman Timmer held the gavel. Everyone should have an equal opportunity and not just those that have a majority vote behind them. This whole thing reminds me of years past when Steve Graves was elected to be on the Council. He upset the status quo with the gang of three and turned the voting block in the opposite direction only to be recalled along two other council members because a supposed violation of the Brown Act and the fact they wanted to review the fire service contract. This of course allowed Councilwoman Lilburn to get her seat on the Council in that recall vote in 2004.

Should a new recall be started for this supposed violation alleged at the last meeting????

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