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New Fullerton City Council members speak out

June 6, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fullerton got a big political shakeup over the beating of Kelly Thomas as voters recalled three city councilmen during an election Tuesday.

The recall was an easy win for Travis Kiger. The 33-year-old information technology specialist gained more than 55 percent of the vote finishing ahead in the race to replace Councilman Dick Jones.

"I'm really excited and the margin of victory was pretty significant for the recall," he said.

Jones, Pat Mckinley and Don Bankhead were ousted in the recall election over accusations that the three lacked leadership after the beating death of Thomas, a mentally-ill homeless man who had a run-in with police last July. Two officers are facing charges and the police department is under scrutiny.

The three councilmen said they remained silent after Thomas' death to protect the investigation, despite protests.

"There were a lot of things they could have said without jeopardizing the case, just express some sympathy for the family," said Greg Sebourn, a college teacher and land surveyor who will replace Bankhead.

Doug Chaffee, a 68-year-old Fullerton attorney, will take McKinley's seat. He says public trust must be restored, and believes community policing will help.

"I want to see a change in the culture of policing, where policemen actually walk the neighborhoods and get acquainted with the residents," he said.

The recall effort was backed by businessman Tony Bushala. He accused the three councilmen of protecting the officers. McKinley is a former Fullerton police chief and Bankhead is a retired police captain.

But Bankhead accused Bushala of using the recall to get his friends elected to city council to win future development deals. Sebourn and Kiger are both backed by Bushala, but they insist there will be no special treatment.

"I will not treat anyone differently or do any special favors for anyone," said Kiger.

The results still need to be certified but the three are expected to start their new jobs July 17.

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