The District 4 Ceres City Council seat that was vacated suddenly by Couper Condit on Oct. 11 will be filled by appointment – or so that’s the plan.
On Monday the council voted unanimously to call for applications on an expedited time schedule.
When the council tried to fill a council vacancy earlier this year it remained deadlocked in a series of 2-2 votes which threw the whole process of finding a replacement to a special election. The special election of Aug. 31 resulted in James “Jim” Casey being elected to fill the District 1 seat vacated by Channce Condit in December 2020.
Couper Condit, who had been elected to the District 4 in November 2020, served only 10 months when he resigned. Whoever is appointed will not serve out Condit’s full unexpired term but will only serve until the November 2022 election. The candidate elected to District 4 in November 2022 would only serve two years to get the four-year term back to its normal cycle of overlapping terms.
Casey called for a special election, saying “it’s important that the people have an opportunity to choose who’s representing them in District 4.”
Three residents in the audience also suggested a special election despite the costs of about $35,000. Ceres resident John Osgood said the city can afford a special election but added “we don’t need to draw this out forever. He also suggested that the council should firmly outline the process rather than decide each time a future vacancy arises. Osgood signaled his intentions to apply for consideration to the appointment.
Frank Borrelli, who has lived for 32 years in a neighborhood inside of District 4, phoned in by Zoom to say that the residents know their district better than the council and should vote for their councilmember.
John Warren said if the city can afford to hand out raises and bonuses to employees, it can fund another special election at $33,000.
The council had to make a decision by Dec. 10 but felt that a special election – which could take place on April 10 as the soonest date – was not fast enough.
Newly appointed Vice Mayor Bret Silveira felt that a special election in April would mean another vacancy for half a year which would “not be the best idea for our city.” He suggested quickly making an appointment and interviewing all in a public meeting.
“I’m 100 percent behind trying to appoint somebody,” said Silveira, “as opposed to going to another special election that would be seven months from now.”
Mayor Javier Lopez agreed.
“I’m thinking in this particular situation we have very limited time,” said Lopez. “If we go through the process he’s suggesting, we could have people apply and hopefully go from there and stop the 2-2 (tie votes) and that’s what my hope is today.”
The council voted unanimously to move quickly to go the appointment route, with Councilwoman Linda Ryno saying Ceres has important issues that have been tied up with a deadlocked council, a situation that wouldn’t occur with a complete council. Ryno suggested a quick application period ending at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 3. The council will publicly interview all of the prospective council candidates in a special meeting set to start at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
Only those registered voters living in Ceres City Council District 4 are eligible to be considered for the appointment. The district is located in the southeast area of Ceres and covers a block around Smyrna Park southward to Highway 99 and leaps across the freeway to take some areas of southwest Ceres, including Marazzi Lane, Sungate Drive, and Daisy Tree Lane. The district also represents downtown Ceres. Persons interested in applying for the seat should consult the council district map to insure they reside within District 1.
Application forms may be downloaded from the city’s website, www.ci.ceres.ca.us or picked up from City Clerk Diane Nayares-Perez at City Hall, 2220 Magnolia Street. Applicants should submit additional background information with the application, which must be signed and include current registered voter information. Applications may be emailed to the City Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org, or delivered in-person to the City Clerk’s office at 2220 Magnolia Street. To have questions answered or to make arrangements to have an application personally delivered, contact the City Clerk at 209-538-5731.
The District 4 voter registration of each applicant will be verified through the Stanislaus County Registrar of Voters.
Regular council meetings are held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 6 p.m. Additional meetings are called as necessary. In addition to regular council business, the individual selected must be available to actively participate as a Council liaison to numerous committees and organizations.
The City of Ceres operates under a council-manager form of government. Four members of the City Council are elected by district to over-lapping terms of four years. The mayor is elected at large for a term of four years. The City Council is the legislative body responsible for the overall policies of the city. The council makes all policy determinations through enactment of ordinances and resolutions and has final authority in the implementation of these policies. The council determines how the city will obtain and spend funds and annually reviews and approves the budget. The City Council appoints the city manager and city attorney.
Councilmembers receive a stipend of $500 per month.
In other action on Monday, Councilman Casey asked the council to place on a future agenda a discussion about enacting term limits for members of the Ceres Planning Commission and adding a non-voting student member. He wants to see commissioners serve three-year terms as opposed to four years, and to serve no more than three terms. Casey would also like to see commissioners appointed on the basis of council districts.
The council agreed to take up a discussion item in December or January.
• CITY COUNCIL TO APPOINT: One registered voter 18 or older in Council District 4 to serve on the City Council.
• APPLICATIONS DUE: No later than 12 noon on Wednesday, Nov. 3 at Ceres City Clerk’s Office, 2220 Magnolia Street.
• INTERVIEWS: At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
• TERM RUNS: Until November 2022 election.
• QUESTIONS?: 538-5731.