Monday, November 9, 2009

Benoit delays senate resignation

St. Sen John J. Benoit will delay his resignation from the California senate until Nov. 30. He plans on being sworn in as the Riverside County 4th District Supervisor on Dec. 1. Waiting two weeks, means the election for his successor will be part of the already scheduled June primary. This saves the county more than a $1 million which is the cost of conducting a special election.

This press release just arrived from Ray Smith, Riverside County's public information officer.

Benoit postpones resignation to save special-elections costs

Sen. John J. Benoit on Sunday rescinded his letter resigning from the Senate and submitted a revised letter with an effective date of Nov. 30. He will now be sworn in on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at the start of the regularly scheduled Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Benoit will hold a news conference today at 11 a.m., the previously scheduled time for his swearing-in, to answer questions about the cost-cutting decision. The news conference will be held in the Board of Supervisors chambers, 4080 Lemon St. in Riverside.

“After consulting with members of the Board, Senate leadership, the governor’s office and others, it became clear that a short postponement just made good sense,” Benoit said.

In a letter dated Sunday (Dec. 8) and faxed to the office of Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, Benoit wrote:

“I am very honored by the governor’s appointment; however, I have been advised that a short deferral of my resignation may result in a significant savings to taxpayers. A slightly later date would potentially allow the consolidation of the senate special election with the statewide June primary.

“Therefore, I hereby request that you disregard my previous letter of resignation. With your concurrence, I will resign my seat as a California State Senator for the 37th Senate District effective Monday, November 30, 2009. I will be sworn in on Tuesday, December 1, 2009.”

By law, the governor has 14 days after a legislative seat becomes vacant to call for a special election. Based on the new effective date of Benoit’s resignation, Gov. Schwarzenegger could declare the need for the special election as late as Dec. 14. An election must be scheduled no more that 135 days later, unless it falls within 180 days of a regularly scheduled statewide election. The deferred resignation date will allow for the special election to be consolidated with the June 8, 2010, statewide primary election.

“We had expressed to the governor the urgency of filling this seat as quickly as possible. However, there did not appear to be anything so urgent pending that would justify expending up to $1.3 million in extra taxpayer funded special election costs,” said Board Chairman Jeff Stone. “I appreciate Sen. Benoit’s offer to delay being sworn in to avoid this extra expense.”

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