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Smith, Vasquez pick up papers for council run
• Deadline for special election candidacies is on June 4

The special election to fill the vacant District 1 seat on the Ceres City Council has drawn the interest of two Ceres residents.

Both Laurie Smith, a member of the Ceres Planning Commission who was at the center of the council’s deadlock in filling the seat by appointment, has picked up nomination papers. So has daycare operator Connie Vasquez. Both women had asked to be considered for the council appointment but none of the four individuals who applied could receive a council majority. Each time a candidate was put up for a vote, the council would vote 2-2 in a deadlock.

The nomination period for the special election started May 10 and runs until 5 p.m. on Friday, June 4. Only registered voters residing in District 1 are eligible to throw their hat in the ring.

The special election will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 31 with only District 1 voters receiving all-mail ballots.

Candidates must fill out nomination papers and have them signed by at least 20 registered voters living in the district and filed no later than June 4. City Clerk Diane Nayares-Perez said that the elections office requires no less than 20 signatures but advises candidates to collect 30 signatures in case some of the signers are later found to be not registered to vote.

Nayares-Perez recommends that prospective candidates call her first at 538-5731 with their name and address so that she can confirm with the Stanislaus County Registrar of Voters that they are a registered voter. Once verification is made then the nomination papers may be pulled.

There is no cost to file but candidates wishing to include a candidate’s statement printed in the ballot handbook will be required to pay $1,000 to the county.

The elected member is expected to be seated at the Monday, Sept. 13 City Council meeting but only serve until the term expires in December 2021.

District #1 consists mostly of the northwest section of Ceres west of Moffet Road. The district includes everything north of Evans Road, everything north of Caswell Avenue and a finger that reaches down to Whitmore Avenue to take in Mary Avenue.

The District 1 seat has been vacant since Jan. 4 when Channce Condit resigned midway into a four-year term to begin service as the District 5 county supervisor. The City Council deliberated four times over appointing someone to fill the seat but remained deadlocked 2-2 and unable to reach a consensus. That forced the council into the tough decision of ordering a special election that could cost taxpayers as much as $45,000 when the county Elections Division sends the bill to the city.

Besides Smith and Vasquez, others who asked to be considered for the appointment were: Memorial Medical Center technician Mark C. White; and limousine service owner Parminder S. Bahia.

Councilwoman Linda Ryno and Councilman Bret Silveira were only willing to support Smith – insisting that her qualifications enable her to hit the ground running without any training – while Mayor Javier Lopez and Vice Mayor Couper supported all the other applicants but her.

The only time in recent Ceres history when a special election was held for a vacant Ceres council seat occurred in November 1976 when voters elected Jim Delhart over five other candidates to replace Steve Wright. Wright had resigned in July 1976 to pursue a career as a police officer. It is unclear if state law at the time allowed councils to fill a vacancy by appointment.