Unelected Mayor Christina Shea and unelected Councilman Michael Carroll — both on the Nov. 3rd City election ballot — are required by State law to include the word Appointed in their ballot designations. The law requires use of the word Appointed to make it clear to the voters that the positions Shea and Carroll now hold in Irvine City government came by way of controversial political appointment and not through an election by the people.
Shea is complying with State law, running as “Appointed Irvine Mayor.” But Carroll, who is a lawyer, refused to put Appointed in his ballot designation. Instead, he is using a loophole in an attempt to mislead voters. Carroll was appointed to the Council back in May 2019, when Shea’s seat became vacant. This year, Carroll was able to convince the Council to name him Vice Mayor so that he could use that title on his ballot designation, which allowed him to omit the word Appointed.
Carroll is trying to portray himself as an elected City official, rather than someone who was appointed to office. Carroll’s conduct is an attempted “end-run” of the state Elections Code, which requires a candidate who has been appointed to office to inform the voters of that fact directly beneath the candidate’s name on the ballot, so that voters are not deceived into thinking that the candidate has previously been “voter-approved.”
Early last year, in a backroom deal to maintain a pro-developer majority on the Irvine City Council, then-Councilmember Christina Shea, who had the most seniority on the Council, essentially appointed herself Mayor when then-Irvine Mayor Donald Wagner was elected to the Board of Supervisors. This, in turn, caused Shea’s Council seat to become vacant.
Most political observers believed that the remaining four on the City Council (appointed Mayor Shea plus three remaining Councilmembers) would do the popular thing and vote to fill the vacancy by calling a special election to let the people of Irvine choose their representative. Instead, in a controversial move that was apparently orchestrated by developers, Shea saw to it that developer-friendly Mike Carroll got the appointment. On May 28, 2019, Carroll took a seat on the City Council as a strong Shea ally — without having to face the voters.
Longtime Irvine resident, Reverend Ken Wyant, says, “What’s gone on here is so wrong in so many ways. Our local democracy is being short circuited. Our five-member City Council now includes a self-appointed Mayor and an appointed City Councilmember who refuses to acknowledge that he was appointed. Instead, he is trying to deceive Irvine voters into thinking he was somehow elected by the people. He wasn’t. That’s untruthful and just plain wrong.”
Carroll’s Political Scheme
Carroll is required to run for a full 4-year term in the Nov. 3rd election, if he wishes to hold onto his Council seat. He has used his brief incumbency to build up a big war-chest. According to campaign finance reports as of June 30th, he has raised more than $100,000, including donations from special interests and $55,500 in personal loans that Carroll made to his campaign. And with strong ties to the development community, he is expected to see his campaign fueled by many tens of thousands of dollars funneled through out-of-town “dark money” committees.
A City Hall insider, who has watched Carroll up close for the past year, says, “Mike’s a pretty smart lawyer, and he may have hundreds of thousands of dollars in developer money. But in refusing to follow the law and affix the word appointed to his ballot designation, he is showing the kind of arrogance and disregard for the voters of Irvine that, in the end, may cost him his Council seat — even if he has a million dollars in developer backing.”
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