Less than a week after City Councilman Mike Fagen was forced to step down after he was convicted on charges that arose from his collection of more than $15,000 in unemployment benefits, the City Council voted unanimously on Sunday to appoint Eileen Goggin, an attorney and 10-year Long Beach resident, to fill Fagen’s unexpired term.
The move comes only a month after the council voted unanimously to appoint Goggin, 51, a law secretary in the New York State Unified Court System, to a three-year term on the city's Zoning Board of Appeals, a seat that Goggin has vacated in order to join the council.
Corey Klein, the city’s corporation counsel, said that under New York state law, Fagen, a Democrat who is up re-election in November, was removed from the City Council because he was convicted of a felony. Fagen did not appear at last week’s council meeting. City officials said that under the city’s charter, the council is required to fill vacancies in order to insure “an effective administration and continuity of government.”
Councilman Len Torres called the appointment a “turning point” for the council, while Council Vice President Fran Adelson said that Goggin is more than “well-qualified” for the position.
“I met with Eileen a couple of times and I feel that she is more than well-qualified to sit up here with the rest of the council to represent the citizens of Long Beach,” Adelson said. “She's bright and she cares and I just think she'll make an incredible addition.”
Councilman John McLaughlin, the lone Republican, also voted favorably. Goggin’s appointment means that the Democrats continue to retain their 4-1 majority on the council.
“I just recently got to know Ms. Goggin and I found her to be very bright and engaging, she's definitely qualified,” McLaughlin said. "And I guess as a member of the political minority, it would be a time for political gain to call for a ‘no’ vote, but I think she's willing and able to do it.”
Klein explained that the council is permitted to appoint a temporary replacement for Fagen prior to the November election, at which point voters could vote for or against Goggin.