Former Modesto councilman Hawn named to LAFCo

local@modbee.comApril 25, 2013 

An agency overseeing growth filled a nonelected position Wednesday with former Modesto Councilman Brad Hawn despite an objection that he could tip the balance of power.

The Stanislaus Local Agency Formation Commission is made up of two representatives from cities, two from county government and one from the public, who sometimes provides a swing vote.

Hawn, who lost a bid for mayor in early 2012, will fill the public member vacancy. Commissioner Jim DeMartini, a county supervisor, preferred promoting Ron Freitas to voting public member from his previous position as the alternate public member.

Freitas was the county’s planning director before he retired, and had been perceived by some as close to the county voting bloc.

Also, DeMartini objected to Hawn's ties with the Modesto Chamber of Commerce, where he is a board director.

The chamber is developing a growth plan for Modesto with hopes of pitching it to city leaders.

DeMartini was outvoted Wednesday by LAFCo city commissioners Charlie Goeken and Amy Bublak, as well as county commissioner Bill O’Brien.

LAFCo rules prevent Freitas from serving another four-year term as the alternate public member, so commissioners voted 4-0 to have Annabel Gammon fill that spot. She also has experience as a former county planning commissioner.

O'Brien said the changes won’t affect LAFCo's controversial farmland preservation policy adopted in September. It requires that cities come up with an agricultural conservation plan when asking to grow.

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