Robert Trigg

Ex-schools chief agrees to join Elk Grove council

Published: Friday, Jan. 25, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 - 2:45 pm

Former Elk Grove schools chief Robert Trigg said Thursday he has accepted an invitation to serve an unfinished term on the Elk Grove City Council created when Councilman Gary Davis was sworn in as mayor in December.

Trigg, in an interview, said he received a telephone call late Wednesday from Davis and agreed to accept the post.

The offer was extended after the council met and made a last-ditch bid to break its repeated deadlocks on five of six candidates. On each of those council votes, the split was 2-2.

The proposal to look outside the list of contenders was intended to avoid a costly special election in June, council members said.

Councilman Pat Hume proposed Trigg, and the nomination won in a 3-1 vote.

Councilman Jim Cooper was opposed, noting that the decision came without public participation and was discussed only after the public comment period closed.

"The public was excluded," Cooper said. "That's poor policy."

Cooper had been a steadfast supporter of contender Nancy De Anda Chaires, whom he had appointed to the city Planning Commission five years ago.

Trigg retired as superintendent of the Elk Grove Unified School District in 1995 after a career in education spanning 35 years. He is 78. He was not at the meeting.

Trigg is to be sworn into office at the council's Feb. 13 meeting. He is to remain in the post until a candidate wins the seat in the 2014 election and is sworn into office.

He told The Bee he agreed to step in so the city could avoid the special election.

County officials have put the cost at upward of $550,000.

"Is it something I had planned or really wanted? That wasn't the case," Trigg said. "But I think, if there is an opportunity to help, I owe the community that."

Hume's nomination proposal won support from Mayor Davis and Councilman Steve Detrick.

Reaction after the meeting was mixed. The council late last year had created a process in which candidates would apply for the post and be interviewed before one was picked.

But the five-member council, with one seat vacant, couldn't pull it off.

Chaires, in a statement she posted on Facebook, said abandoning that process meant the nominee was not vetted.

"This episode illustrates the need for more transparency in our government and respect for its citizens," Chaires wrote. "I remain committed to bringing about the government that Elk Grove residents want and deserve."

Chaires has said that she plans to run for the office in the 2014 election.

Another of the six candidates, small-business owner Oscar Portillo O'con, said he was happy with the council's decision.

"I think it's a good choice," O'con said. "He (Trigg) is a good man. He is good for the community. He is good for business."

Davis, on his own Facebook page, said the decision was difficult.

"I wish we weren't deadlocked, but we were," the mayor wrote. "From my perspective, the only alternative was to choose someone above reproach who had not applied for the position."

Trigg has "a long and distinguished career serving Elk Grove both as Superintendent of EGUSD and President of the State Board of Education," Davis wrote. He said Trigg will not seek election in 2014.

Trigg, asked if he might warm up to the idea of running for the office in 2014, reinforced Davis' perspective.

"No," he said. "Not at all. Not even a little bit."

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