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Full council ready to fill vacancies on two panels
New Ceres City Council with Casey
The Ceres City Council met on Monday, Sept. 27 as a complete body with James Casey now seated (at left). The rest of the council is composed of Councilwoman Linda Ryno, Mayor Javier Lopez, Councilman Bret Silveira and Vice Mayor Couper Condit.

Now that the Ceres City Council is complete with the installation of Jim Casey, members decided on Monday evening to move forward to fill three vacancies on the Ceres Planning Commission and two vacancies on the Measure H Oversight Committee.

The action could occur at the next meeting, Oct. 11.

The council intended to fill the vacancies in January but could not because of sharp disagreements among members.

On Monday the council debated whether to seek applications from residents interested in serving or go with the ones interviewed in January. The council was not unanimous in deciding against re-advertising for applications on Monday. Councilman Jim Casey said he supported seeking applications again given 10 months has passed. Vice Mayor Couper Condit wanted to seek additional names. They were outnumbered by Mayor Javier Lopez, and members Linda Ryno and Bret Silveira.

In January six residents asked to be considered for appointment to three open seats on the Ceres Planning Commission. Incumbents Bob Kachel and Gary Del Nero sought re-appointment. The third vacancy occurred in December when Bret Silveira resigned to become a member of the City Council. Other applicants desiring a seat –Julio Madrigal, Daniel Martinez, Angie Duarte-Smith and Rafael Valencia – were interviewed by a subcommittee of Mayor Lopez and Ryno.

Meanwhile in December three applicants for two open seats on the Measure H Oversight Committee, which reviews how Measure H sales tax dollars are spent on public safety, were interviewed by Lopez and Silveira. They were Joshua Steeley, Rosalinda Vierra and Daniel Martinez. Their recommendation was to appoint Steeley and Vierra.

However, none of the appointments were made.

In January after it was announced that the three recommended appointees to the Planning Commission were Kachel, Del Nero and Daniel Martinez, Condit suggested waiting until a full council was seated. Ryno suggested that there was no need to wait “because everyone in the city was invited to submit their application.” Silveira motioned to appoint the three but Condit opined that since the voters rejected the council incumbents on Nov. 3, 2020 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 supported 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. She suggested it was hypocritical of Condit since he did not call for a full council before he was selected to be vice mayor at the meeting of Dec. 14, 2020.

Silveira told the mayor that the council hadn’t failed to reappoint a member unless he or she wasn’t wanted. That happened in January 2020 when Couper Condit was denied reappointment to that panel.

Silveira’s January 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.”

The January vote was unanimous to postpone the appointments.