After what was appearing to be another 2-2 deadlock over who to appoint to an empty seat and minutes of awkward silence where nobody budged, Ceres Mayor Javier Lopez reluctantly gave his support to the appointment of John R. Osgood III in a 3-1 vote on Tuesday.
The vote came after the council interviewed three applicants to be considered to fill the City Council District 4 seat vacancy caused by the sudden Oct. 11 resignation of Couper Condit.
Lopez told Osgood: “All I’ve got to say, Mr. Osgood, don’t let me down. We’re on this dais. You’re closer to me than you are over there.”
Besides Osgood, the council interviewed Daniel Martinez who was recently appointed to the Ceres Planning Commission and Mohinder Singh Kanda who came under criticism for suddenly moving into District 4 after he lost a 2020 bid to run for District 3.
In the past year or so, Osgood has frequently offered input at council meetings, often criticizing the council and being confrontational with city staff. He is employed as a truck driver and hosts his podcast, “Forgotten Liberty Radio.”
Vice Mayor Bret Silveira steadfastly opposed Osgood but made no remarks. Osgood had threatened Silveira, who is employed as a Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputy, on his March 10, 2021 podcast when speaking how Silveira called for Osgood’s microphone to be shut off after he used profanity. Osgood said, “Bret Silveira, you ever tell the city clerk to cut me off again, I’ll come down there and punch you in the throat, b----.”
In the same podcast, Osgood threatened that if anyone tried to recall then Vice Mayor Couper Condit – who resigned last month – he would recall Ryno by “going door to door and compare her to Nancy Pelosi. You’re done, b---h. Change your ways or you’re done, b---h.”
Osgood also threatened to mobilize a recall effort against Silveira using organizations that “despise the very existence of police officers” including Black Lives Matter.
He also said in the podcast, “If those two, Silveira and Ryno, think that my public comments on the phone are rough, God help them if I’m ever elected to a City Council position and they’re sitting on the dais.”
Newly appointed Councilman James Casey signaled that he would be supporting Osgood because “more than one” supporter of Osgood phoned him. He characterized Osgood’s past participation as moments of getting “excited.”
In two successive motions Lopez and Silveira held out for Martinez while Ryno and Casey supported Osgood.
After it appeared no one on the council would compromise, Mayor Javier Lopez said: “I truly believe we’re better than a 2-2 split.” He prodded the the others to not sit in silence.
Ryno said she had concerns about each applicant but said “I still believe Mr. Osgood has the passion, Mayor that you speak so often of.”
She expressed disappointment that nobody with city experience applied.
Lopez suggested deciding by a coin toss or drawing names to avoid another special election costing the taxpayers approximately $35,000. The idea went nowhere.
Osgood stood up to suggest the council has ignored the citizens at meetings.
“People are always ignored,” said Osgood, “that’s why I stand before you as an applicant tonight to give the voice back to the people of District 4.”
Lopez relented, telling Martinez in the audience: “Mr. Martinez, you obviously see that nobody is budging. You’re on the Planning Commission. You’re going to do great things. All I’ve got to say, Mr. Osgood, don’t let me down. We’re on this dais. You’re closer to me than you are over there.”
When Ryno motioned to appoint Osgood, Silveira loudly said, “No!” during roll call.
Martinez was an unsuccessful candidate for the council in November 2020 and appointed to the Ceres Planning Commission last month. Martinez is employed as a quality auditor with SunOpta Aseptic in Modesto.
Kanda, a Ceres businessman, came under criticism as not being involved in council meetings and changing his address days before the filing period just so he could apply.
“I believe that John Osgood would do a great job,” said Ceres resident Gene Yeakley. “You know there’s a lot of people that feel differently but he’s studied, he’s well versed, he’s got his opinions to himself and to other people but he gets to the point.”
District 1 resident John Warren plugged Osgood as well. He also claimed that Kanda only registered to vote in District 4 on Nov. 2. The deadline to apply was Nov. 3.
Warren argued that Martinez wanted to be appointed to the Planning Commission, which happened on Oct. 11, the same day that Condit resigned.
“My suggestion would be leave Mr. Martinez where he is on the Planning Commission and that leaves one other person for you to take the choice,” Warren told the council.
Kanda unsuccessfully ran for the District 3 Ceres City Council seat in November. He submitted his application for the District 4 appointment using a Fifth Street residence.
Condit, who had been elected to the District 4 in November 2020, served only 10 months when he resigned. Osgood will not serve out Condit’s full unexpired term but only until the November 2022 election. The candidate elected to District 4 in November 2022 will only serve two years to get the four-year term back to its normal cycle of overlapping terms.
Osgood said he is a lifelong Ceres resident who graduated from Ceres High School in 1994. In his speech to the council, Osgood boasted that as a youth he earned the status of Eagle Scout and how he is a direct descendant of eight members of the Mayflower voyage.
“If chosen I will represent District 4 with a firm grasp of the constitutions,” said Osgood, “a firm grasp for the laws of the state of California and I will use those documents as my guiding principles.”