Arroyo Grande City Councilman Ed Arnold resigns, calling his problems 'a distraction'

Arroyo Grande City Councilman Ed Arnold announces his resignation at Tuesday’s meeting.
Arroyo Grande City Councilman Ed Arnold announces his resignation at Tuesday’s meeting.

Saying he realizes he has become “a distraction,” Arroyo Grande City Councilman Ed Arnold resigned Tuesday night.

“It’s a very sad time for me,” he said at the start of the City Council meeting. “I hope that everyone will see I’m not quite the bad guy I’m painted to be in the press right now. Until that time, I don’t see how I could effectively serve the citizens.”

Arnold pleaded not guilty in January to five felony charges, including assault with a deadly weapon and domestic violence, stemming from a Dec. 15 attack on a woman who had been living with him and his wife at their Arroyo Grande home.

He also pleaded not guilty on April 14 to two additional felony charges of possessing child pornography and using a minor for pornographic images.

The council will hold a special meeting May 5 to discuss the process to appoint someone to serve the remainder of Arnold’s term, which runs through 2012.Arnold was escorted by police officers as he left Tuesday’s meeting. He got into a blue Ford truck and did not comment to the media.

Arnold had served on the council since 2004. He was re-elected in 2008 to serve a four-year term.

“I enjoyed it immensely,” Arnold said of his time on the council and the Planning Commission.

Mayor Tony Ferrara thanked Arnold for his service to the city.

Arnold’s attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, said in April his client “has done nothing wrong” and vowed that Arnold would remain on the council.

Arnold is scheduled to be back in court for a pre-preliminary hearing on May 5.

The council was set on Tuesday to consider a letter asking Arnold for his resignation. City officials have said that Arnold’s situation is a drain on city resources and distracts staff from focusing on day-to-day business.

The city now has 30 days to fill the vacancy by appointment or by calling a special election.

Councilman Chuck Fellows said he preferred allowing the public to vote for the next council member, but agreed with other council members that it would be better to fill the seat as soon as possible.

Since 1948 there have been eight mayoral or council vacancies, and all have been filled by appointment, City Attorney Tim Carmel said.