March 7, 2012 (El Cajon ) – Community leaders expressed shock and sadness today over the resignation of El Cajon Councilmember Jillian Hanson-Cox.
In a letter dated March 5, the Councilwoman wrote, “I have always discharged my duties with a sense of pride and commitment to the City and my constituents. Recent events have given rise to a burden and demands on my time that would possibly detract from the time necessary to continue my commitment to the City and my constituents.” Her resignation is effective immediately.
The announcement comes just days after news broke that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) searched her home and office at Century Design, a machine manufacturer in Kearny Mesa where Hanson-Cox served as controller. UT San Diego reports that she is no longer employed at the company.
Search warrants are sealed and the FBI has not confirmed whether the target of the probe was Hanson-Cox or someone else.
The Councilwoman was elected in 2004 and was in the final year of her current term.
“The procedure for filling a vacancy on the City Council,” stated City Attorney Morgan Foley, “first requires the remaining Councilmembers to decide whether they will appoint someone or leave the office vacant until the City’s November 6 election,” when the seat held by Ms. Hanson-Cox is scheduled for election as a matter of course.
Council has 60 days to make a decision and to choose a replacement, or the seat will be filled in the upcoming election. It has not yet been determined whether the City Council will seek applications to fill the vacancy or simply select a new Councilmember from among those persons the City Council might identify as possible candidates.
Foley reports the question of whether to appoint someone, and the procedures to be followed if an appointment is to be made, will be presented to the City Council at its March 13 regular meeting, which starts at 3:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at 200 Civic Center Way in El Cajon.
Mayor Mark Lewis expressed surprise and sadness by the resignation, citing all of the hard work of Ms. Hanson-Cox over the past seven years as a member of the City Council.
“Jillian brought so much energy, so many fresh ideas, and a commitment to our residents; she will really be missed,” said Mayor Lewis. “She has worked tirelessly for the City and our residents, spending her own time to meet with businesses that might relocate in the City, meeting with residents and local business owners to address issues in their neighborhoods, giving special attention to the needs of our senior residents, and by giving her time to serve on volunteer boards for those special events that make our City wonderful,” Lewis said.
Hanson-Cox has a long record of community service and has earned respect for her efforts. She has served as president of the Mother Goose Parade, founded the city’s “Seniors on the Move” program, has been active in preparations for the city’s upcoming centennial celebration, and was named Woman of the Year in 2010 for the 77th Assembly District by then-Assemblyman Joel Anderson.
Barry Jantz chief executive officer of the Grossmont Healthcare District, broke news of the Councilwoman’s resignation on San Diego Rostra. “Not knowing the details of the reason for the investigation, I can still personally say I am saddened by this news,” he wrote. “I know Jillian as completely dedicated to her community and very committed in her support of local causes. I pray the best for her and her husband.”
Councilman Gary Kendrick told the Union-Tribune that he was surprised by the FBI action but said he was giving Hanson-Cox the benefit of the doubt. “I’ve always found Jillian to be honest and professional and with the highest caliber of character,” he concluded.
Hanson-Cox has not responded to requests for comment.