Riverbank councilwoman resigns

RIVERBANK -- Nine months shy of her term's end, Riverbank Council- woman Kathy Anaya resigned last week.

A week after being appointed vice mayor for the second time since she took office in 2004, council members assembled so she could announce she's leaving.

At the time, she didn't say why.

During a phone interview Monday, she relaxed her normally stalwart character and tearfully explained that she felt resigning was appropriate because she is moving to Oakdale and isn't sure when she'll return to Riverbank.

"It's heartbreaking. I feel very, very bad that I couldn't finish my term," she said.

Anaya would not explain why she is moving to Oakdale except to say she "had to." She said her reason is personal, not political.

"I really do plan to move back at some point. It's just not going to happen in a timely fashion," she said. "But I plan to stay involved in a lot of things in Riverbank."

Mayor Chris Crifasi changed his vice mayor appointment last week from Anaya to Councilwoman Sandra Benitez. Benitez taking over as vice mayor has nothing to do with Anaya's resignation, he added.

Crifasi said he is sad to see Anaya go.

"It came as a bit of a surprise," he said. "She and I came on the council at the same time, and I've really enjoyed working with her."

In her more than three years on the council, Anaya developed a reputation as a small-business advocate. All of the council members support small businesses downtown, but Anaya has been their biggest proponent, Crifasi said.

Shortly after Anaya resigned Thursday, council members voted 3-1 to appoint her replacement. Councilman Dave White said he thought her replacement should be elected.

Those who supported an appointment cited the short period between the next election and the end of Anaya's term. If someone were elected to replace her, that person would be up for re-election in November, Crifasi said.

The council will choose a replacement this month, City Manager Richard Holmer said.

Those interested in applying can find applications online at www.riverbank.org or at City Hall North, 6707 Third St. Applications are due Feb. 15 at 5 p.m.

Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at 578-2382 or ehightower@modbee.com.