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Albert Fox appointed to fill vacant seat on Citrus Heights city council

Albert Fox, Citrus Heights city council
Newly appointed Citrus Heights Councilman Albert Fox is sworn in by City Clerk Amy Van on Friday, as Vice Mayor Steve Miller and Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins look on. // CH Sentinel

In 2005, Citrus Heights resident Albert Fox applied to fill a vacancy on the city council, but didn’t get appointed. More than a decade later, he applied again and was appointed on Friday to fill the vacancy left by Councilman Mel Turner, who passed away last month.

The 71-year-old has become a familiar face to city government since moving to Citrus Heights 16 years ago, serving on the city’s planning commission since 2011. Now retired, Fox formerly served in state law enforcement and also served on the committee responsible for recommending Citrus Heights form its own police department.

Asked for comment following his appointment, Fox said he was “surprised, excited (and) looking forward to the challenge.”

According to a bio included in his application, Fox has also been a college instructor and served in parent-teacher committees in the Fresno City Unified School District and the Buckeye School District in El Dorado County.

In a May 26 interview at city hall with council members, just prior to being appointed, Fox said one of his goals would be attracting young families to Citrus Heights by focusing on housing and schools.

City council members also interviewed eight other residents who had applied to fill Turner’s vacant seat, taking about two hours to have questions answered about public safety, debt, priorities, and whether there was any disagreement with past decisions made by the council.

Familiar faces among the applicant pool included Rick Doyle, Marcel Weiland, Amor Taylor and Porsche Middleton — all of whom ran for city council last year. Jim Monteton, who serves on the board of the Sylvan Cemetery District and ran for city council in 2010, also applied for the position.

Three new faces in the applicant pool were Patrick Moneybrake, Cynthia Kennedy, and Naveen Habib. According to their applications, Kennedy works with the Sacramento County Office of Education, Habib is a senior account executive with Lucas Public Affairs, and Moneybrake is the owner of a Citrus Heights-based chimney cleaning business. (See full applications)

The council made its decision by an initial round of voting to narrow the list of applicants from nine down to three. With each of the four council members writing down their top two picks, the field was narrowed to Fox with three votes, and Porsche Middleton and Marcel Weiland tying with two votes each.

A motion was then made to appoint Fox, who was approved 4-0.

“It was a tough decision because among the other eight applicants, some were equally qualified,” said Mayor Jeff Slowey. “At the end of the day I think the right decision was made.”

Vice Mayor Steve Miller also called the decision difficult and said he was “impressed with everybody.” However, he said Fox stood out from the list because “he was ready to hit the ground running.”

Miller, who applied for the same vacant seat as Fox in 2005, was successfully appointed to the council the same year and has won re-election for each successive term. He encouraged the eight applicants who weren’t appointed to continue involvement in the community, citing his own history of losing a race for city council in 2004 before being appointed the following year.

Other council members also encouraged the applicants to remain involved, with Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins reflecting on the advice she gave to Turner when she heard he was interested in running for city council. “You need to be known in your own community first,” she recalled telling him.

Bruins offered two tips to the room of applicants and about 40 other community members and city staff who attended the May 26 meeting where Fox was appointed. “Get involved in your neighborhood association and take the [chamber of commerce] leadership program,” she said.

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Tonya Wagner, who attended Friday’s meeting and formerly served as president of the Residents’ Empowerment Association of Citrus Heights, also expressed hope that the other applicants who applied for the vacant seat would remain active and “not just disappear from view.”

Wagner said she was satisfied with Fox’s appointment and credited him with being an engaged member of the community who “knows the issues the city faces.”

Fox will serve on the council through the end of Turner’s term in December, 2018.

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