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Council election ordered for Nov. 8
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The person to fill the vacant seat on the Ceres City Council will be selected by the voters on Nov. 8.

The council took action last week to call for the special election to coincide with the date of the regular election to save the city in election costs.

The council vacancy was created in January when Mayor Anthony Cannella resigned to become a California state senator, and Councilman Chris Vierra was appointed mayor. That left his unexpired term vacant.

The council had the option to call a special election earlier than November but it would have been costly to Ceres taxpayers. The county estimated it would have charged the city between $62,000 to $81,000 to conduct a special council election. Having an election timed with the regular election brings down costs considerably, said City Attorney Mike Lyions.

Filling the vacancy by appointment is no longer an option because state law forbids a city council from being composed of a majority of appointed members. Appointees on the council are Councilman Bret Durossette, who was tapped to fill the unexpired term of Rob Phipps who died in December 2007; and Vierra, who as the new mayor is considered an appointee even though he was previously elected to a council seat.

Only Ken Lane and Guillermo Ochoa are elected members of the council.

Operating a four-member council for the rest of 2011 is not without risk. The panel is at risk of deadlocking in 2-2 ties and two absences would result in a quorum not being met. On Feb. 28 the council met as three members with Ken Lane absent. Had another member been absent the council meeting could not have occurred.

Also in November, Ceres voters will be picking a mayor since Vierra is only serving out Cannella's unexpired mayoral term, and must run for re-election to retain the seat. Also up for grabs are council positions occupied by Ochoa and Durossette.