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Health district delays appointing new director

Candidate interviewed but split vote will give time for more applicants

Rick Monroe

Special to the Village News

After Stephanie Ortiz suddenly resigned Nov. 9 as one of five directors of the Fallbrook Regional Health District, the board met for a special meeting Nov. 30 to select a replacement to serve Zone 2 through 2024.

There was one applicant, Mike Stanicek, who each of the four directors said was an excellent fill-in for the elected position. However, after meeting for an hour, the directors ultimately decided to delay the decision until Dec. 14, their only remaining meeting of the year.

That meeting is when Howard Salmon, board chair and member of the board since 2014, will be replaced by Terry Brown, winner of the Nov. 8 election with 62% of the vote in Zone 5. Board members Jennifer Jeffries and Bill Leach were re-elected with 54% in Zone 1 and Zone 3, respectively, in uncertified results.

Barbara Mroz, vice chair, is in the middle of her 2020-2024 term.

The Dec. 14 meeting will include the swearing-in of Brown. The new board will have a closed-door session to select its officers and other business, then move on to the regular agenda – which will include selecting a Zone 2 replacement. With a four-member board, it would require three yes votes for a majority.

At the Nov. 30 meeting, the board interviewed the applicant, Stanicek, a Fallbrook resident of 5½ years who has been a volunteer in the community and an active member of the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce. He was selected Ambassador of the Year by the chamber and was asked to join its board and executive committee.

Salmon and Jeffries voted to nominate Stanicek, but the motion didn’t pass when Mroz and Leach voted no.

Both Mroz and Leach said Stanicek was a fine candidate, but thought the board was rushing the process and that the community should be given more time for there to be more applicants, citing the Thanksgiving holiday as a factor.

District 2 covers the downtown area of Fallbrook, plus nearby neighborhoods that are higher cost, said district CEO Rachel Mason after the meeting. She noted that the area was identified as a clear “minority majority zone” when the geographic boundaries were drawn, giving the Hispanic population in the area an opportunity for representation on the board. Ortiz is Hispanic and Stanicek is White, but board members didn’t indicate that was the reason for delaying the appointment.

Mason suggested the extended deadline for people living in Zone 2 to apply should be several days before the Dec. 14 meeting so board members could review the resumes of any applicants. The deadline is Friday, Dec. 9, at 5 p.m. She said anyone interested in running should contact her at the district office to make sure they reside in the correct geographic zone. Others in the community have inquired about the open seat but didn’t live in Zone 2.

Ortiz resigned because she moved to Oceanside.

Jeffrey Scott, legal counsel for the district, said the board must select a replacement by Jan. 9, or order a special election. Otherwise, the matter would go to the County Board of Supervisors for a decision. A special election would cost the district about $15,000.

During the Nov. 30 meeting, each of the board members asked questions of Stanicek, who said he chose to run because he felt that with his executive marketing career background, it was “time to give back.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, board members saluted Salmon for his dedication to the district and presented him a gift basket.


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