Tiburon councilmember, former mayor resigns amid family move
With some 3½ years left on his term, former Tiburon Mayor David Kulik has resigned from the Town Council to move to Southern California with his family.
Citing a serious health issue in the family, he submitted his resignation letter to his council colleagues and other Town Hall officials the afternoon of May 19, effective immediately.
In a special meeting set for May 25, after The Ark’s press deadline, the Town Council was to decide how to fill Kulik’s seat. The council must, within 60 days, fill the vacancy by interim appointment or call for a special election this November. If filled by appointment, the seat must still appear on the ballot of the next general municipal election in November 2022 because Kulik resigned in the first half of his term. In either case, the winner of the election would finish the remainder of the term, through November 2024.
Historically, the council has filled vacancies by interim appointment, meaning applications for the seat could open up as soon as May 26.
Kulik, a resident of Old Tiburon whose family had been staying temporarily at their second home in the beachside San Diego County city of Del Mar, had missed six of the council’s nine meetings — as well as his ex-officio assignments to other boards — between Nov. 4 and Feb. 24, when the Town Council granted him a two-month personal leave of absence.
He returned from leave for one council meeting May 5 — the only meeting he’s attended since his new four-year term began Dec. 2 — but he was then absent from the Diversity Inclusion Task Force meeting of May 12; the full council makes up half of the 10-member panel.
“The past year has been extremely challenging for everyone, myself and my family included,” Kulik wrote in his letter. “I appreciate your granting me a leave of absence to carefully consider what is best for my family situation, and while I have always considered Tiburon to be my home, we have decided to make our temporary stay in Southern California more permanent.”
In a May 23 interview, he said “cancer and COVID drove everything.”
“My family was dealing with a breast-cancer diagnosis for someone in the family, and that led us to convalesce at the Southern California house,” he said.
While at least one Tiburon resident — and apparently at least one member of the Town Council — has raised questions about Kulik’s residency status and eligibility to hold office, there is little doubt he primarily resided in Tiburon.
The accusations surfaced publicly earlier this week in a report on Kulik’s resignation by the Marin Independent Journal.
Kulik purchased the Southern California home in 2003 and, according to the IJ, has been taking a tax break there for owner-occupied principal residences, even since purchasing his Tiburon home in 2007. The California Homeowners’ Property Tax Exemption reduced the taxable value of the Del Mar home by $7,000 annually — equating to actual savings of about $70 a year.
Under California election law, the home at which an office holder receives the tax exemption is presumed to be their primary residence.
While Tiburon officials said they confirmed Kulik was a registered voter in Marin when he ran for re-election last year, one resident questioned whether Kulik should have been able to vote in Marin or hold local office if his primary residence was presumed to be in Del Mar.
That resident said she was “alerted to the rumor (Kulik wasn’t a resident) by a member of the council who asked to remain anonymous,” according to an email to the council obtained by The Ark.
However, under the election law, the primary-residence presumption “shall not apply” if another home is listed as the current residence “on any driver’s license, identification card or vehicle registration.”
In addition to Kulik being a registered voter in Marin, both of his two young daughters were born at San Francisco hospitals and had exclusively attended Belvedere-Hawthorne Nursery and Reed Union School District schools since the family purchased in Tiburon, where Kulik also served on the Lyford Cove-Old Tiburon Neighborhood Association and on the Belvedere Tennis Club board of directors.
Further, the former fighter pilot and Marine Corps reservist had been working as a commercial pilot for Oakland-hubbed Southwest Airlines since moving to Tiburon, and in 2009 he received his master’s in business administration attending classes at San Francisco’s campus of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
The accusation of impropriety elicited a strong response from council colleague Alice Fredericks.
“Outrageous innuendos without any concern about legal definitions of primary residence. I have worked with David for nearly a decade. His dedication to the town and reasoned decision making for the town’s benefit is unquestionable,” she said in an email to The Ark. “To hint of impropriety presumably at the behest of an anonymous councilmember … is reckless, with no benefit to anyone. To cloak it all in a facade of righteous concern while ignoring his dilemma is unconscionable.”
Before joining the Town Council, Kulik served on the Planning Commission from 2013 to 2017, serving as its chair in 2015.
He was an interim appointment to the Town Council in June 2017 with Holli Thier, this year’s mayor, with the two filling seats vacated mid-term after Councilmembers Erin Tollini and Frank Doyle moved out of state with their respective families.
In a three-way race, Kulik and Thier in November 2017 ran successfully to keep their seats for the remaining three years of their predecessors’ terms. Kulik served as mayor from December 2018 to December 2019 before he and Thier were re-appointed to four-year council seats last December after running unchallenged in November.
Reach Tiburon reporter Deirdre McCrohan at 415-944-4634.