Redding resident keeps her promise, sues city over vote to pick Tenessa Audette as mayor

A Redding resident has made good on her promise to sue the city and three council members over a Dec. 5 vote that made Tenessa Audette the mayor for 2024.

Kathryn McDonald filed the lawsuit Feb. 5 and she said the city was served on Wednesday.

The civil complaint alleges that the City Council violated the Brown Act when it voted 3-2 to make Audette mayor on Dec. 5.

Audette has said the allegations are not true.

Related: Redding resident alleges Brown Act violation over vote to select Audette as mayor

In addition to the city and Audette, council members Jack Munns and Julie Winter are named as defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed in Shasta County Superior Court.

Tenessa Audette
Tenessa Audette

Audette, Munns and Winter voted to seat Audette as mayor.

Councilman Michael Dacquisto and Mark Mezzano voted no.

The controversial decision to pick Audette, who was mayor pro tempore in 2023, ran counter to all seven residents who spoke at the meeting and endorsed Mezzano as mayor, who as vice mayor was in line to become mayor in 2024. McDonald was one of residents who endorsed Mezzano at the Dec. 5 meeting.

McDonald’s complaint asks for a judgement to declare the Dec. 5 vote null and void, “reasonable” attorney fees, and other legal costs associated with the lawsuit.

On Dec. 29, McDonald sent a letter to the city demanding to correct the vote that made Audette mayor and Winter vice mayor. She alleged the council violated the Brown Act because there was no discussion abut why Audette, Munns and Winter voted for Audette and that picking Audette did not keep with the traditional succession of the current vice mayor, Mezzano, becoming mayor.

Julie Winter
Julie Winter

The city on Jan. 18 responded to McDonald in a letter signed by City Attorney Christian Curtis that stated in part, “I am authorized to inform you that, after consideration of your request, the City has declined to agendize an item for consideration of your proposed action.”

The letter said the city takes its Brown Act obligations and threats of litigation seriously, but “it does not appear that corrective action is necessary or appropriate in this instance.”

Jack Munns
Jack Munns

Asked what’s to stop the council for voting for the same outcome should a judge rule in her favor, McDonald conceded that could happen.

Related: 'Bethel juggernaut': Michael Dacquisto rips selection of Tenessa Audette as Redding mayor

“You know, there is nothing to stop them from doing that and I hope they wouldn’t. I hope they would follow traditional practice and restore Mark Mezzano as mayor,” McDonald said.

McDonald said she has an attorney who is willing to take the case and that she is raising money to pay for that individual. She declined to name the attorney.

City Attorney Curtis did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Audette, Munns and Winter did not immediately return emails seeking comment.

David Benda covers business, development and anything else that comes up for the USA TODAY Network in Redding. He also writes the weekly "Buzz on the Street" column. He’s part of a team of dedicated reporters that investigate wrongdoing, cover breaking news and tell other stories about your community. Reach him on X, formerly Twitter, @DavidBenda_RS or by phone at 1-530-338=8323. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Redding Record Searchlight: Redding resident sues city over council's 2023 vote for mayor