RIVERBANK — The City Council deadlocked Monday night on how to fill the seat vacated by Richard O'Brien, who assumed the mayor's post during the meeting.
Also Tuesday, outgoing Councilman Jesse James White, who faces charges related to a traffic accident, was recognized for four years of service.
White, who had stopped attending council meetings, turned out at his final one to receive a plaque and acknowledged his troubles.
"I want to say I've really enjoyed serving with all of you guys," he said, "and I want to thank the citizens of Riverbank who stood by me in some really tough times."
White, who did not seek re-election, faces felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from a Feb. 20 incident in Oakdale in which he's accused of drunken driving, crashing his Corvette and leaving behind his injured 4-year-old.
"By God's grace, I can have a new life every day, clean and sober," he said.
Darlene Barber-Martinez, who won White's seat in the Nov. 6 election, was sworn in at the meeting, as was re-elected member Jeanine Tucker.
The council agreed that the seat vacated by O'Brien should be filled byappointment, because a special election could cost as much as $57,000, said City Clerk Annabelle Aguilar.
"Special election should absolutely be off the table," Tucker said.
The disagreement was over who should be allowed to apply. Barber-Martinez and Councilwoman Dotty Nygard favored opening the process to any city resident registered to vote. O'Brien and Tucker said it should involve only the other Nov. 6 candidates Cal Campbell, Leanne Jones Cruz, Kathy Salvatore, Anthony McKinney and Jessica Molina.
Several audience members urged the council to appoint Campbell because he finished a close third to Tucker and Barber-Martinez.
A motion to appoint Campbell failed on a 2-2 vote, with O'Brien and Tucker in favor. That was followed by a motion to open the process to any applicant, which got support from Nygard and Barber-Martinez. A third motion to choose from the unsuccessful Nov. 6 candidates, won votes from O'Brien and Tucker.
The council agreed to continue the discussion at a special meeting Monday evening. It has 60 days under state law to make an appointment, after which an election would be required. Whoever assumes the seat will serve out a term ending in December 2014.
The council will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 6707 Third St.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2385.