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Council delays appointments after flap
Council zoom in ceres
The Ceres City Council meet via Zoom on Monday evening and sharply disagreed over a number of agenda items.

There will be no appointments to the Ceres Planning Commission or the Measure H Oversight Committee until a new councilmember has been appointed to fill the vacant District 1 Council District seat.

The council previously worked up a game plan to make the appointments at Monday’s meeting but ended up delaying the process after a sharp disagreement among members.

A total of six persons applied for three open seats on the Ceres Planning Commission. Incumbents Bob Kachel and Gary Del Nero are seeking re-appointment. The election of Bret Silveira to the council created on vacancy on the Ceres Planning Commission. The four other applicants are Julio Madrigal, Daniel Martinez, Angie Duarte-Smith and Rafael Valencia. 

The applicants were interviewed by a subcommittee of Mayor Javier Lopez and Councilwoman Linda Ryno while the applicants for the Measure H Oversight Committee were interviewed by Lopez and Councilman Bret Silveira. The committee looks at how Measure H sales tax dollars are spent on public safety.

After it was announced that the three recommended appointees to the Planning Commission were Kachel, Del Nero and Daniel Martinez, Vice Mayor Couper Condit suggested that the appointments wait until a full council is seated.

Councilwoman Linda Ryno suggested that there was no need to wait “because everyone in the city was invited to submit their application.” She noted that the applicants came from varying council districts.

Silveira made a motion to appoint the three but the new vice mayor chimed in that since the voters rejected the incumbents on the City Council on Nov. 3 the council should not “approve folks who’ve been on the Planning Commission for 12 years, which I have a problem with on its face.” He said he supports term limits of 12 years of which both men have served. Despite saying both Kachel and Del Nero have “served honorably,” Condit added “12 years should be enough time to move on.”

Ryno disagreed, saying there are no term limits for the council. She argued that she and the mayor interviewed all the candidates – as the council had arranged – and that the vote should go forward.

“If you choose to not vote for the people that we chose for, that’s fine, but I don’t think putting someone in the seat next to me is going to make a difference,” Ryno told Condit. “We opened the applications to everyone in the city.”

She suggested it was hypocritical of Condit that he did not call for a full council before he was selected to be vice mayor at the meeting of Dec. 14.

Condit added that he supports term limits for offices at all levels.

Mayor Lopez pulled back on the appointments after saying it was a “tough decision.”

“I agree with Mrs. Ryno in many ways and I agree with Couper in many ways but I think at the end of the day we need to be very transparent,” said Lopez.

Silveira told the mayor that the council has never failed to reappoint a member of “unless the council didn’t want somebody on the Planning Commission.”

Couper Condit was denied reappointment to that panel in January 2020.

Silveira’s motion was seconded by Ryno yet resulted in a 2-2 tie vote.

However, when time came to make an appointment to the Measure H Committee, Lopez was poised to proceed with the appointment of Joshua Steeley and Rosalinda Vierra. Daniel Martinez applied for a seat as well.

Ryno asked why there was a difference, to which Condit said it was because only two members are being appointed versus the three on the Planning Commission.

Ryno said if the council held off on picking planning commissioners until a full council “then the same should apply to Measure H. You want transparency. You want everybody up here to vote so let’s just do that.”

All four members cast a unanimous vote.