Cypress council fills vacant seat with retired police officer

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Scott Minikus appointed to fill the vacant council seat of former Mayor Pro-tem Stacy Berry.

Despite pleas from the public to appoint an Asian community representative and a request from a female city council member to replace former Mayor Pro-tem Stacy Berry with another woman, the Cypress city council on Monday selected a retired Long Beach police officer to fill her seat.

The Council voted 4-0 Monday to appoint retired officer and Dept. of Homeland Security veteran Scott Minikus to the council seat vacated by Berry.

While Minikus was not the unanimous selection as first choice, he did get the nod from Mayor Jon Peat, Mayor Pro-tem Paulo Morales and council member Anne Hertz.

Council member Frances Marquez, PhD, suggested Rachel Strong was her first choice, and she strongly urged the other council members to replace Berry (a woman) with another woman.

“When women leaders step up, we should afford them every opportunity. Stacy Berry was a tenacious leader and was in the minority through her tenure of six years,” she said. Cypress voters voted for Berry, said Marquez, and “due to systemic barriers and lack of opportunity, voters respect and desire women’s leadership.”

A total of eight candidates, six women and two men, “applied” for the vacant city council seat. They faced a panel of four remaining members of the Council who subjectively decided on their own what qualifications and commitments they wanted to see in Berry’s replacement.

Minikus apparently did have the qualifications being sought by at least three city council members.

Nevertheless, when it came to a vote, Marquez voted with the other members to make it a unanimous (4-0) selection to appoint Minikus to the vacant council seat.

Both Peat and Morales are termed out next year, when city voters will again select two more representatives. Minikus will be appointed to fill the remainder of Berry’s unexpired term, and if he runs for a new term, it will be as an incumbent in 2022.

The ENE has reached out to Minikus for comment but, as of press time, has not heard back from the soon-to-become Cypress city council member.

In his application, however, Minikus said enhanced economic development, strong community values and keeping the community safe would be among his priorities.

During the entire discussion, the Council made no mention of former candidate Carrie Hayashida’s impressive finish in 2020 (2,000 votes ahead of the closest other candidate) and there was no discussion of considering the city’s population of one-third Asians to give them representation on the council. She was one of the applicants, but not immediately available for comment.

A total of eight candidates, six women and two men, applied for city council consideration before the remaining members of the Council decided on what qualifications they wanted.

Nevertheless, the council thanked all of the candidates for applying.

“The candidates spent so much time and effort into really providing a clear case for their qualifications and what their vision is for the future of the city,” said council member Anne Hertz. “And I really appreciate that,” she said.

“As I reviewed them, I charted and listed and really assessed what I thought was going to be the most qualified candidate for the city. And when I got to my final two, I checked references on both of those individuals. And my top candidate, after much thought, would be Scott Minikus,” said Hertz.

Mayor Pro-tem Paulo Morales implied that the other candidates may stress the staff, saying “what is important to me when looking at that the concern is that the person selected must be able to work with city staff.”

“We have a tremendous staff, they work hard, I don’t think we need to add any more stressors to any of them. That same person needs to work with the city attorney, and the city manager who is charged with the day-to-day operations of the city,” said Morales.

The mayor pro-tem thanked all of the applicants for their ideas and presentations, and Morales said that he listened to Marquez’ “question on diversity in the community, which I think was terrific, but with having said all that, my recommendation is for Scott Minikus.”

Peat said he divided up the candidate’s applications into two main elements: their interviews and their applications, which he said, “gave evidence of their experience, education and their involvement.”

While Minikus did have significant law enforcement and homeland security experience, Peat said he believed Minikus would be best qualified to hit the ground running.

“I believe that the person with the most comprehensive set of the qualifications for the situation…[someone who] can come up to speed quickly…will be Scott Minikus,” said Peat.

City manager Peter Grant said Minikus would officially be sworn in later this week, though a “ceremonial” swearing in would occur at the council’s next regular meeting.

Cypress council fills vacant seat with retired police officer