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September 10, 2013

Riverbank council plans to fill vacancy by appointment

The Riverbank City Council discusses how to fill the vacancy from Dotty Nygard’s resignation

The City Council decided Monday night to choose from past council candidates, rather than the city residents at large, to fill a vacancy.

The council voted 3-1 to invite those candidates to seek an appointment to fill the last 15 months of Dotty Nygard’s term. She resigned the seat last month.

The council plans to interview the candidates in public Oct. 7 and could choose a person that night. If it cannot agree on someone by Oct. 30, state law would force the matter to a special election, with an estimated cost of $57,000.

Councilwoman Darlene Barber-Martinez, who dissented, suggested appointing the second-place candidate in the June special election that filled another council vacancy. That was Diana Gonzalez, who placed a distant second to Cal Campbell.

Mayor Richard O’Brien offered the idea of opening the appointment to all past candidates. It won support from Campbell and Councilwoman Jeanine Tucker.

“We know them,” Campbell said. “We’ve heard them speak. We have background on them.”

State election law gives Riverbank the option of limiting the candidate pool when trying to fill a vacancy by appointment. Any city resident who is registered to vote can run in an election.

Council members agreed that they did not want the expense of a special election. It could not be held until March 8 or April 8, depending on how state law is interpreted, City Manager Jill Anderson said.

Riverbank voters had to break a council impasse on filling a void created by the November mayoral election of O'Brien, a former councilman. The four remaining council members deadlocked at four meetings in December and January, setting up a June ballot and the election of Campbell.

The candidate pool for the upcoming appointment will include people who have run in regular council elections, held every two years, and a few special elections to fill vacancies in recent years.

The city staff plans to ask them to fill out applications and questionnaires in advance of the Oct. 7 interviews.

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