Riverbank council fills vacancy

kcarlson@modbee.comSeptember 26, 2013 

JBL Cruz 1

Leanne Jones-Cruz

JOAN BARNETT LEE — Modesto Bee Buy Photo

— City leaders have appointed Leanne Jones-Cruz to complete an unexpired term on the City Council.

Council members voted 4-0 Thursday evening for Jones-Cruz to serve until the end of 2014. The vacancy was created when Dotty Nygard resigned in August and her resignation took effect Sept. 1.

Jones-Cruz will be sworn in Oct. 14, once again giving the council three women and two men.

After interviews with the five applicants were conducted, Mayor Richard O’Brien first made a motion to appoint business owner Larry King and got a second from Councilwoman Darlene Barber-Martinez. But Vice Mayor Jeanine Tucker and Councilman Cal Campbell voted “no.”

The council put to rest any thoughts of impasse when all four supported the motion to appoint Jones-Cruz, who works as a special-education teacher at Beyer High School in Modesto.

Earlier this year, Riverbank voters had to break an impasse on filling a vacant seat created when O’Brien was elected mayor in November. The council deadlocked on an appointment at four meetings in December and January. That set up a June special election, costing the city $56,000 and awarding the seat to Campbell.

Tucker said she was impressed that Jones-Cruz attended most of the council meetings for the better part of a year. The 10-year Riverbank resident packed her application with letters of recommendation from community members and fellow educators. She has served as vice president of the Riverbank Lions Club, is a past president of the Riverbank Historical Society and belongs to the Federated Women’s Club.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the city,” she said after the appointment. “I am glad the council made the decision and didn’t need to hold a special election.”

Jones-Cruz said during her interview that the city has a frightening situation with the budget if it can’t generate the revenue needed to cover expenses. “It’s urgent that we meet our goals and balance our budget,” she said.

The council considered three other applicants: former Councilman Ric McGinnis; Anthony McKinney, an auto sales consultant; and Carlos Verduzco, a youth sports coordinator. The council decided to restrict applications to people who had run for office in previous city elections.


Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.

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