Hollister council members voted 3-1 to move ahead with the process of appointing a new District 1 council member to replace Ray Friend, who recently resigned to move closer to family in Washington.
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez was the lone dissenting vote, with Council members Jim Gillio, Mickie Luna and Karson Klauer voting for an eventual appointment.
Velazquez argued that voters in that district should have the right to choose their representative, although he acknowledged it “did work” the last time the council appointed a council member in District 4 when current Councilman Gillio was appointed a year and a half ago. Velazquez pointed out that if Friend had resigned just one meeting earlier, the council would have been able to get the matter on the November ballot.
Instead, it would require a special election that would cost $75,000 to $150,000 and could not take place until March, City Clerk Christine Black confirmed at Monday’s meeting.
“But there’s a potential for a completely new council to be sitting here,” Velazquez argued. “I just question the idea that we would make that appointment for them.”
City Manager Bill Avera told council members the city could get the appointment noticed in the local paper by Aug. 31, with an expectation to interview candidates Oct. 1.
Other council members disagreed, though.
“I’m comfortable with the way the process went the first time so I’d like to stick with it,” Klauer said.
Luna said there’s too much for the city to address between now and next spring to wait.
“What we did last time (with Gillio’s appointment) was very transparent, was very inclusive,” Luna said.
Gillio himself said he appreciated Velazquez’s sentiment, but Gillio also reminded potential candidates they have the opportunity to make their cases for the job.
“This council has not selected anybody, does not have any favorites,” he said.