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Painter Verena Maier shows examples of her work for the Open Studios Tour on Friday.//Phil Klein Phil Klein

The tides of change continued in Guadalupe Wednesday when Herb Sanchez announced he was stepping down from his City Council seat for health reasons.

"I wish to thank the citizens of Guadalupe who have supported me," he said.

His resignation is effective immediately, said Sanchez, who faxed a written notice to the city.

Sanchez has served on the City Council for several years. He originally was elected in 1988, but left three years later when he moved to San Bernardino. He returned to Guadalupe and was appointed to the council in 1998. He was elected to his current term, which expires next year, in 2000.

Last month Sanchez landed in hot water when the Santa Barbara County District Attorney/s office filed a preliminary injunction against him for an incident in which he gave documents from a closed-session meeting to the media. The injunction was an order for Sanchez to stop violating the Brown Act, which regulates government agency meetings and prohibits officials from disclosing information from closed session meetings.

According to Deputy District Attorney Allan Kaplan, pursuing any action will become moot if Sanchez resigns as a councilman. Kaplan said he will take Sanchez/s July 8 hearing off the calendar once he verifies the resignation with the city.

The news came as a surprise to city officials who did not know of Sanchez/s plans.

"I do respect Herb deeply," said Mayor Sam Arca. "He will be sorely missed."

Arca pointed out that Sanchez excused himself Tuesday night during a budget session meeting.

"He had to leave for whatever reason. It was kind of interesting," Arca said.

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City administrator Carolyn Galloway-Cooper said the city will probably have to make some kind of public statement.

According to county elections manager Bob Smith, government code requires the city to either appoint someone or call for a special election within 30 days.

In the past year, the city has lost several key officials, including Frank Usher, who resigned as city administrator; Alex Simas, who was terminated as city attorney; and City Clerk Christina Estorga, who resigned.

* Staff writer Elizabeth Rodriguez can be reached at 347-4580 or by e-mail at erodriguez@pulitzer.net.

June 5, 2003

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