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Council swearing-in ceremony moved up to Thursday
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The planned swearing-in ceremony of new members of the Ceres City Council has been moved up a day from Friday to tomorrow due to the death of Vice Mayor Rob Phipps.

A special City Council meeting had been scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Ceres City Council Chambers for the swearing-in of Mayor Anthony Cannella, and councilmembers Rob Phipps and Guillermo Ochoa. All three incumbents were re-elected on Nov. 6. Phipps died unexpectedly at his home on Sunday.

The swearing-in ceremony will now take place at 5 p.m. Thursday.

"Ordinarily these are times of celebration but this will be very business like," said Mayor Cannella.

The council will decide next Monday how to fill Phipps' four-year term. Cannella said the council has the option of appointing someone to fill the vacancy, or calling for a special election.

One option would be to appoint the next highest vote-getter in the Nov. 6 election. That would mean tapping Mike Kline, who received 1,197 votes just behind Phipps' 1,348 votes.

Cannella was unopposed on Nov. 6. His election marks the first time in Ceres' history that a mayor has been elected to a four-year term. Ceres voters made the change from a two-year to four-term in the 2006 election with the passage of Measure V. Ceres was the last city in the county to abandon a two-year mayoral term. Since 1978, Ceres voters had been deciding a mayor on an every-two-years basis.

Cannella, first elected as mayor in 2005 - to a two-year term - has always supported the longer term saying that two years wasn't "long enough to be in office."

The new council terms come with an increased stipend. In August 2006, the council voted to increase the pay of councilmembers for the first time in 21 years, to take effect last month. Council pay increased from $250 per month to $500 per month, while the mayor's pay goes from $300 to $600 per month.

Also to be sworn in will be Harry Herbert as the newly elected city treasurer.

Thursday's event will also serve as a way to honor Brenda Scudder Herbert, who is retiring as city clerk after 12 years. The city also plans to honor Albert Avila, who is leaving his position as city treasurer.

Voters also approved Measure W last year making the city clerk position an appointed one instead of an elected office. The change came about when the office failed to generate any interest and no candidates came up to the plate.

Last week the Ceres City Council put the city clerk position under the direct supervision of the city manager. They also tapped Cindy Heidorn, who is the executive secretary at the city, to fill the position.

Many cities in California appoint their city clerks. The majority of city clerk duties include recording council meetings and developing minutes and signing official council papers.

Because the city clerk position is now appointed, a person living outside the city may be considered in future appointments. City Attorney Michael Lyions said one of the reasons to have an appointed clerk is to "upgrade and professionalize the city clerk position to meet the expanding needs of the city as those needs could not be met by a part-time elected city clerk."