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Cypress City Councils interviews 3 of 8 applicants to fill vacancy

On Monday, August 9, the current four members of the Cypress City Council met at 5 p.m. to conduct the first three of eight interviews of applicants to fill the Council seat vacated by Stacy Berry earlier this year.

The three applicants interviewed were Scott Minikus, Soledad St. Hilaire, and Britney Cook.

Scott Minikus, a Navy veteran and former police officer who now works as a chemical security inspector for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was the most organized and professional in appearance. He was obviously well informed about issues facing the City — from affordable housing and homelessness to communication challenges to State-mandated organic recycling to the eventual development of the Los Alamitos Race Course property. He was the only applicant to offer specific ways to correct misinformation through the City website, social media, and talking with community groups.

Soledad St. Hilaire, a 30-plus-year resident of Cypress, loves the City and wants to give back. She sees affordable housing and homelessness as the two big issues facing the City. She asserted that much could be accomplished through increased use of existing programs to help and support the homeless population. She was personal and personable in her answers, rather than impersonal and professional. She stated that the increasingly diverse demographics of Cypress demand that representation for members of the constituent populations that are now underrepresented needs to be increased.

Britney Cook wants to improve the engagement of residents with the workings of City government. She believes that the City must address the State mandates for affordable housing head on, and perhaps look for a way to allocate housing for military veterans. To aid in communication between the City and its increasingly diverse residents, she wants to make translators available. Perhaps City-sponsored events could also recognized the increasing diversity, such as offering a celebration of Diwali in addition to the Community Sing. Public correction of misinformation should be pursued. Difficult or contentious votes should be done based on the best interest of the City, with a clear explanation of motive and reasoning. She is already active as a volunteer, citing service as a member of the Cypress Festival Committee, Neighborhood Watch, and Landell Parent-Teacher Association.

All the applicants stressed listening with respect, marshaling facts, and making decisions in the best interest of the entire City.

What’s next

The applications of all eight applicants are available on the City website.

Four more interviews will be conducted on Wednesday, August 11: Steve Blount, Christine C. Stellino, Rachel Strong, and Malini Nagpal.

Carrie Katsumata Hayashida requested and was granted an extension on the interview window, which was scheduled to end this week. She will be interviewed on Tuesday, August 17 at 5:30 p.m. The Council decided against re-opening the application process based on this extension.

After interviewing the last applicant, the Council will then immediately begin deliberation on its selection.