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Seven seek council seat
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Seven persons have submitted applications to be considered for appointment to the full council term created by the death of Rob Phipps.

Applications for the vacant seat were due Thursday at City Hall.

The seven applicants are Mike Kline, Richard Felix, Hollie Hall, Bret Durosette, Donnie Donaldson Jr., and planning commissioners Brandy Meyer and Laurie Smith.

Phipps was re-elected to a third term on Nov. 6. He died before he could take the oath of office.

Mayor Anthony Cannella and Vice Mayor Chris Vierra plan to interview the applicants on the afternoon of Wednesday, Jan. 2. Depending on how those interviews go, applicants may be asked to attend a special City Council meeting set for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 3 in the Ceres City Council Chambers so they may address council. The mayor's recommendation and subsequent vote of the Council will occur at the meeting.

At the Dec. 10 council meeting, supporters of Mike Kline and Steve Breckenridge lobbied for their man to be appointed. Both men ran for City Council on Nov. 6 but fell short; Kline missed a seat when he attained 1,197 votes just behind Phipps' 1,348 votes, and Breckenridge placed fourth with 870 votes.

Mayor Cannella said he was not going to automatically pick Kline merely because he was the third highest vote-getter. He said neither Kline nor Breckenridge were owed an appointment, saying "neither party won" on Nov. 6.

Breckenridge did not fill out an application to be considered.

"There's seven very qualified people who have now made applications for the open seat," said the mayor. "Any one of those would make a great addition to the council. So you have to ask yourself, why didn't they run for the previous council election? And one of the reasons may be because they like the direction of the council and they saw no need to separate the council that was moving the city forward. So I want to be careful and not just think about who was a candidate for the election itself but what are their qualifications and what are their reasonings."

All applicants were given a copy of the City Council's vision and goals. Cannella specifically wants to know if the applicant supports those goals.

"We have a strategy for the city and I want to make sure that everybody in principle can agree to that," said Cannella. "Now, obviously, we're not all going to agree on everything just like this current council doesn't agree on everything. But if somebody wants to take the city in a complete different direction, that's going to help influence my decision."

In December 2005, the council found itself with a vacancy to fill when Cannella was elevated from the council to the mayorship. The vacancy was filled among applications but ultimately was filled by Guillermo Ochoa, who was a council candidate who fell short of being elected. Cannella recalled that Ochoa's prior candidacy was not the sole reason for his appointment.