RIVERBANK — Riverbank City Councilwoman Dotty Nygard announced her resignation toward the close of Monday night's council meeting, sparking speculation on how to replace her a frustrating and costly task in recent times.
A similar vacancy divided the council earlier this year, costing taxpayers $56,000 in a special election because council members could not agree.
The Bee was unable to reach Nygard on Wednesday. City Manager Jill Anderson said of the councilwoman's departure, "My understanding is it's based on family circumstances."
City Clerk Annabelle Aguilar said the councilwoman cited "personal reasons" for vacating her seat. Mayor Richard O'Brien said, "I believe she is leaving the area and going to Tracy," where Nygard works as a nurse.
Nygard's resignation is effective Sept. 1, beginning a 60-day period during which the remaining council members must decide how to fill the seat, either by appointment or special election. Ny- gard has one year remaining on her term.
There was no council discussion of the matter Monday, Aguilar said, as Nygard's announcement came late in the meeting. O'Brien said he has "no idea" what the council majority will decide.
Riverbank voters were called on to break a council impasse on filling a void created by the November mayoral election of O'Brien, a former councilman. The four leaders deadlocked at four meetings in December and January, setting up a June ballot and the election of Cal Campbell. Nygard favored the ballot approach over appointing Campbell outright.
Options will be discussed in open session at the council's next regularly scheduled meeting, O'Brien and Anderson said, starting at 6 p.m. Sept. 9 in the council chamber at 6707 Third St.
"We'll just have the process run its course," Anderson said. "We'll know more where the council stands at that meeting."
When she ran for council, Nygard probably was best known as a leader of Riverbank Citizens for Fair Change, which tried to recall Jesse James White and his grandfather Dave White from the Riverbank council in 2009. The group also tried to recall Jesse James White after his May 2010 arrest on drug possession charges.
Nygard, 57, has been active in the community as a volunteer for Earth Day, the Riverbank Fiesta, Relay for Life and the nonprofit Riverbank Community Gardens.
O'Brien said, "We do want to honor her for her service in civic duties, volunteerism and all the other events she helped us with," including Friends of Jacob Myers Park and the Riverbank farmers market.
The Stanislaus County Commission for Women recognized Nygard as one of its 2013 Outstanding Women of Stanislaus County.
"She has been a very engaged member of the community," Anderson said, "and certainly deserves recognition for her contributions."
Councilwoman Jeanine Tucker said in an email that she was shocked to hear the announcement. "(Nygard) has been a tremendous force in our city and has always been willing to volunteer and take on projects aimed at making the lives of Riverbank residents better," Tucker said. "I wish her and her family well now and in the future."
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2390.