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Schafer returns to Sanitary District board

She fills the seat vacated by Jim Fitzpatrick, who beat her in an election two years ago before resigning in January.

February 22, 2013|By Bradley Zint and Jill Cowan
  • Arlene Schafer
Arlene Schafer

The Costa Mesa Sanitary District board of directors appointed Arlene Schafer on Friday morning to fill a vacancy created after a recent resignation.

She will serve out the remainder of former Director Jim Fitzpatrick's term, which runs until December 2014.

Current board members voted unanimously to select Schafer, citing her experience serving on the board previously and her likely ability to quickly move back into the role.

Schafer said she was "relieved" upon being chosen. Given her history serving both the Sanitary District and the city of Costa Mesa, including as a term as mayor, she said, "I know I'll do a good job."

She added that she'll be able to make a "smooth transition" learning about the issues facing the board, and "I think that's what [the district] really needs right now."

Schafer was one of 19 applicants for the seat, which the directors whittled down to six earlier this week. They conducted a special meeting at the district's West 19th Street headquarters to address the vacancy.

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Pending a background check, Schafer will sworn in during the Feb. 27 board meeting.

Her last term ended in 2010, when Fitzpatrick beat her in the November general elections by nearly 1,600 votes, according to Registrar of Voters data.

All five directors of the Sanitary District — whose service area includes all of Costa Mesa and portions of Newport Beach and unincorporated county land — receive a stipend of $221 per service day, with a maximum of six per month.

Unless filling a vacancy, they are directly elected by the public for four-year terms.

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How it happened

Fitzpatrick resigned from the elected position in January, saying that he no longer wanted to defend himself against the lawsuit filed by his director colleagues. They had contended that Fitzpatrick's service on both the Sanitary District and Costa Mesa Planning Commission from December 2010 to May 2012 was incompatible.

Fitzpatrick resigned his Planning Commission seat May 15, 2012, with the hope that the district would cease its lawsuit, now that the perceived conflict of interest was gone. The district did not, and eventually received permission from the state attorney general's office to pursue litigation against an elected official.

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