In a special Monday meeting that took less than 10 minutes, members of the Ceres City Council voted 4-0 to appoint Mike Kline to join them and take the oath of office. It was a rapid conclusion to a series of missteps to fill the seat following the Oct. 11 resignation of Couper Condit.
Kline, 63, previously served in the District 4 seat until he was defeated in November 2020 by Condit. Condit resigned just 10 months into his four-year term without an explanation.
The council voted 3-1 on Nov. 9 to appoint John R. Osgood III to the seat, bypassing applicants Daniel Martinez and Mohinder Kanda. Supporting the Osgood appointment were Councilman James Casey, Councilwoman Linda Ryno and Mayor Javier Lopez with Vice Mayor Bret Silveira in opposition. However, after the Ceres Courier and Modesto Bee published some of Osgood’s controversial statements uttered on his podcast and at council meetings, the council was pressured to rescind the appointment. Members of the NAACP turned out on Nov. 22 to express dismay over Osgood’s use of the “n-word” during one podcast which was exposed by the Bee.
When the council rescinded the appointment, Mayor Javier Lopez expressed an open ended suggestion to appoint Kline since he had served in the seat since 2011.
Osgood has not appeared at a council meeting since his appointment was rescinded.
Monday’s council met at 4:30 p.m. to clear out of the chambers by the time of the scheduled 6 p.m. Planning Commission.
No members of the public gave their input as to filling the seat.
Newly seated Councilman James Casey read a prepared statement before a motion was made, expressing his desire to see the vacancy filled by special election, which would have cost the city anywhere between $35,000 and $40,000. He noted that the council’s decision to appoint and later rescind Osgood’s appointment has “already diminish our declining reputation.”
“There’s no need to discuss the past short history of our missteps so let’s move forward in a concentrated effort to rectify that which this council has, for whatever reason, made regretful decisions,” said Casey.
His motion to order a special election received no second and died.
Councilwoman Linda Ryno motioned to appoint Kline, seconded by Mayor Javier Lopez. Vice Mayor Bret Silveria and Casey both voted for Kline. The vote was unanimous.
Kline promptly took the oath of office administered by Ceres City Clerk Diane Nayares-Perez.
Kline thanked the council for the appointment. He acknowledged that he chose not to apply for the seat in November but said “after seeing the turn of events that have taken place I want to thank the council for reaching out to me to fill the void for one year.”
After the meeting, Kline said he will keep his options open when the seat comes up for election in November 2022. Whoever is elected would only serve out the remaining two years of the unexpired term for District 4.
“It feels a little different because of what you hear the atmosphere has been,” said Kline. “Now you’re coming into it with them trying to appoint somebody and now all of a sudden it comes down to this.”
Kline said he resents how Condit pre-empted his attempt to serve a third term –intended to be his final one – and then he resigned 10 months later.
Kline said Monday he won’t rule out running to keep District 4 seat next year but said “we’re going to see how things are going to pan out and who pulls papers and go from there. I’m open. My goal was three terms and that was it.”
Kline has been a Ceres resident for nearly 50 years. He has been a warehouse manager for Cost Less Foods since May 2019, and previously worked for Tony’s Fine Foods. Mike served as president of the Ceres Lions Club in the 2018-19 year.
Kline ran unsuccessfully for county supervisor in 2020 in the March 2020 primary.
He and his wife Tammi have three children and four grandchildren.