The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency board is slated to discuss Tuesday the possible censure of its board vice president, Dan Mortensen, who was recently convicted of a domestic violence charge.
The board agenda states that board members do not have the authority to remove Mortensen, one of Division 3’s four representatives on the board, from his elected seat. However, they are allowed to take up a vote on censuring him and/or stripping him of his “vice president” designation.
Mortensen was convicted of one count misdemeanor domestic violence in the Santa Clarita courthouse on March 7, and, according to the SCV Water board’s upcoming meeting agenda, only a felony conviction and/or “any offense involving a violation of his or her official duties” results in an elected official’s seat being vacated, per California government code.
“The board has no power to remove him from the office of director,” the amended Tuesday agenda reads. “If the board is inclined to take any action, two possible options are censure and/or removal of Director Mortensen from the office of vice president.”
The Tuesday night agenda item states that a censure “is a formal expression of the opinions of the board that a board member’s actions were improper” and that there are no other legal consequences associated with it.
“In a case like this, where the offense is a matter of public record, evidence is not required and there is no right to cross-examine witnesses,” the agenda reads. “Before the vote on the motion of censure, the member should be given an opportunity to present a rebuttal.”
In addition to censuring Mortensen, the board could also decide to remove him from the board vice presidency and address the question of his replacement at a future meeting.
Mortensen has represented District 3, which includes portions of Newhall, Valencia, Castaic and the SCV communities west of Interstate 5, since 2018. Previously, Mortensen had been a member of the Newhall County Water District board since 2007.
The news of the possible censure comes after a jury convicted Mortensen of punching his wife on the night of April 12, 2020. Responding deputies said they found his wife, Morgan Mortensen, injured and huddled with her daughter behind a locked door in their Newhall home.
Mortensen had the opportunity before the approximately week-long trial began to accept a 52-week diversion program in exchange for the criminal case and single count to be completely dropped.
However, the Newhall tax attorney and water board member declined the offer, saying that he was “running for office again in November,” and could not be enrolled in domestic violence classes when that happens.
While on the stand during the trial, Mortensen asked prosecutor Jessica Lansky if she was “determined to win” the case because he held elected office. The accusation directed toward the deputy district attorney was admonished by Judge Maria Cavalluzzi and marked the end of what had been a handful of back-and-forth exchanges between Lansky and Mortensen.
His sentencing is scheduled March 29 at the Santa Clarita Courthouse.
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency teleconference regular board meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Those wishing to view the meeting or participate in public comment can visit https://scvwa.zoomgov.com/j/1605635774 or listen toll free at 1-833-568-8864, webinar ID: 160 563 5774.