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April 14, 2024

As city officials eye appointment for open seat, mayor wants special election

While City of Hollister officials plan to move ahead with an appointment to fill the District 1 council seat departed by Ray Friend after 10 years in the post, the mayor is making a push to have a special election in order to fill the role.

Friend in recent weeks announced his resignation from the council because he’s moving to Spokane, Wash. District 1 covers the north central section of Hollister, and Friend has held the seat since 2008 when he succeeded Brad Pike.

On Monday, there was discussion among the city manager and council members about how to potentially move forward with an appointment to fill the seat for the next two years, but Mayor Ignacio Velazquez has another idea.

“My view on something like that is it should be up to the people,” Velazquez said.

He believes the additional cost for a special election is worth it, while Friend informed the city too late in the process to get the consideration on the November ballot with other council seats up for election.

“At the end of the day, it should be an election,” Velazquez said.

The mayor said he doesn’t mind filling such a role by appointment for a short period, but not two years.

“It’s a two-year voice. That’s a long time,” he said.

The city will have the three other council seats and the mayor’s position up for election in November. Typically, the mayor would have been joined by candidates for Districts 2 and 3 (held by Mickie Luna, who is running again, and Karson Klauer, who isn’t running) on this year’s ballot. But the city decided to truncate Councilman Jim Gillio’s term in District 4 to two years instead of four when he was appointed a year and a half ago, shortly after Roy Sims abruptly resigned weeks into his tenure because he was moving out of district. With Friend departing, that leaves all five elected seats up for grabs at one time.

Other council members had their own thoughts on prospects for filling the seat.

“I expect that at the next council meeting that we will likely decide we’re doing an appointment process,” Klauer said.

He added there would likely be a certain time frame to apply with public interviews following, perhaps toward the end of September.

“It’s kind of important that we get somebody back up there,” Klauer said, noting how it’s harder to do business with four elected decision makers, especially with some items needing four-fifths approval.

Said Gillio: “On Monday night, we directed the city attorney to look into the minimum and max terms for appointment and to get back to us on the legalities of the appointment process.”

Luna said what the council did when appointing Gillio “worked very well.”

“Everybody was given an opportunity,” Luna said. “If they felt they wanted to apply, they were welcome. The process went very well interviewing the candidates.”