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Palmdale City Councilmember Laura Bettencourt steps down

Frederick Thompson may be appointed to the vacant seat

OW Staff Writer | 3/28/2014, midnight

Palmdale City Councilmember Laura Bettencourt submitted her letter of resignation from the Council effective March 20, 2014.

In the letter addressed to Palmdale Mayor James C. Ledford, Bettencourt wrote, “After some heartfelt discussions with some of my colleagues, friends, and city staff I have decided to resign my seat on the Palmdale City Council. My resignation will be effective immediately.”

“As you know, I did not run for re-election. The decision not to run was based primarily on my current health issues and the wish to spend more time with my ailing father who is currently in a life-battle with cancer. When the court handed down its decision that prevented the seating of recently elected councilmembers, I remained on the council to keep the council at full strength. I expected a quick response from the court to resolve the on-going election issues, but it has now been over four months and it is not clear when the city will receive a decision on this matter. Based on that uncertainty, I have decided to resign from my position on the council. My resignation is bittersweet, but it will allow me more time to concentrate on my health and get some needed rest, spend time with my father, and to allow the City Council to move forward for the residents of Palmdale,” wrote Bettencourt.

The seat that was held by Bettencourt was won by Frederick Thompson in the city’s Nov. 8, 2013 election. Due to a lawsuit on the California Voting Rights Act by Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris and Malibu attorney Kevin Shenkman, the results of the council seat are currently in limbo until the Court of Appeals certifies the election. That decision could happen at any time.

“We’re very appreciative that Laura was able to go ‘overtime’ with our council and city business,” said Palmdale City Attorney Matthew Ditzhazy. “However, it is unfortunate that she was even put in this predicament due to the greed and interloping of Parris and Shenkman. Their lust for money and interference in Palmdale’s affairs has kept Fred Thompson, the first African American to be elected to the Palmdale City Council, on the sidelines when he has been more than ready to take his rightful seat.”

However, Thompson’s time may be at hand if the Palmdale City Council appoints him to the now vacant seat.

“One of the options, and without question the most obvious option, would be to simply appoint Fred Thompson to the council seat that he was elected to by the residents of Palmdale,” Ditzhazy said. “The council could also choose not to seat anyone, or to appoint someone else.”

“I think our council needs to strongly consider appointing Fred to the vacant seat,” said Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford. “Based upon November’s election, I know that is what the majority of our citizens want us to do.”

The issue will be discussed at the April 2 Palmdale City Council meeting.