BCL: Candidates sought to fill BCL seat left vacant by passing of Skutley

November 29, 2013
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly 

Santa Paula Times 

Suzi Skutley was devoted to Blanchard Community Library and now applicants are being sought to fill the void left by the recent death of Skutley, who was also a BCL Trustee as well as a loyal library patron.

Skutley passed November 7 at age 64; she had been a BCL Trustee and member of the five-person elected panel since January 2005.

The BCL Board of Trustees recently announced that it is seeking applications from interested residents of the library district-an area of residency that coincides with the Santa Paula Unified School District-to fill Skutley’s remaining term that ends November 2014.

The December 2 application deadline is looming but as yet no applications have been received, according to a BCL official. 

“Obviously we’re trying to cast a broad of a net as possible,” to find candidates for the open seat said BCL Interim Director Ned Branch.

“If we don’t get a representative number of responses we’ll push it back,” past the December 17 meeting where he was hoping that trustees would decide upon the appointment.

The holidays are probably having an impact on responses but the library district is also facing an election code deadline to fill the vacancy within 60 days of when the opening occurred, whether by appointment or ordering an election.

The law needs some study as on the surface it is not clearly defined as to what constitutes the effective date of the vacancy. 

If the vacancy decision-making passes the 60-day mark an outside agency such as a city council or county-again, another issue that would have to be clarified-could make the appointment.

Although the December 2 application is just days away Branch said, “In the interest of having a strong and effective Board of Trustees, the board will be flexible,” with timing if necessary by calling a special meeting later in December to consider applicants. 

There were six candidates-including one incumbent-that ran for three open seats in the November 2012 election, when the major issue of library operations and leadership drew what is probably a record number of candidates for the normally docile board elections.

Incumbent Beverly Mueller was reelected as were newcomers Linda Spink and Maureen Coughlin, the latter two who had questioned library issues.

There was nothing bookish about the series of changes that followed the November election: Dan Robles, the longtime librarian, was terminated in April and the next month the bookkeeper was also let go and it was announced in August that the District Attorney’s Office is investigating about $750,000 in funds the board has alleged is missing. 

The board moved ahead and oversaw facility upgrades as well as operational changes and new financial reporting.  

Spink assumed the presidency of the library board when illness forced Skutley to step aside. 

Those interested in being considered for the trustee position are asked to write a letter outlining their background and reasons for wanting to serve on the board. 

Applicants will also be required to submit written responses to a list of questions prepared by the board. 

According to the posting on the library website, “Candidates are reminded that their letters and question responses will be regarded as public documents and available to anyone wishing to see them.”

After reviewing the letters and written answers to questions, the BCL Board of Trustees will interview all candidates that submitted complete applications at an open board meeting, either at its regular December 17 session or at a meeting later that month.

Anyone interested in receiving the list of questions prepared by the Board or desiring further information should contact Ned Branch, interim director, by telephone at 805-525-3615 Ext. 102 or by mail, Ned Branch, c/o Blanchard Community Library, 119 8th St., Santa Paula, CA 93060.

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