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Current Council Agenda and Past Meeting Information



Meeting Date: December 12, 2006

Subject/Title: Consideration of options to fill a vacancy on the City Council pursuant to Government Code 36512 including possible appointment and swearing in of new Council Member.

Prepared by: Margaret Wimberly, City Clerk
Damien Brower, City Attorney


That the Council select one of the following two options to fill the vacancy created by the election of former Council Member Taylor to the position of Mayor, within thirty (30) days of the “commencement of the vacancy”.

1) Appoint a person to fill the unexpired term
a. The Council may appoint a successor this evening or within 30 days; or
b. The Council may choose to hold interviews to appoint a successor

2) Call for a special election to fill the vacancy.
a. The Council may also adopt an ordinance allowing an appointment until the election and certification of the results takes place.

At the General Municipal Election of November 7, 2006, City Councilmember Robert Taylor was elected Mayor. He resigned his position as Council Member earlier this evening, thereby creating a vacancy on the City Council. The term of office for the vacant position expires November of 2008.

Government Code Section 36512 (b) states that the City Council must take appropriate action within 30 days of the commencement of the vacancy by either: (a) appointing a successor; or (b) calling a special election so the voters may elect a successor. If the Council decides to call a special election, the Council may also enact an ordinance allowing an interim appointment until a special election is held. The person appointed or elected, pursuant to (a) or (b) would serve the remainder of the unexpired term. Final action by Council related to the vacancy must occur by January 11, 2007, and may take place at the December 12, 2006, meeting if so desired.

A. Appointment.

If the Council chooses to proceed by way of appointment, it can do so by majority vote of the Council. The appointment must be done at a public meeting. Government Code Section 36512 (a) states that a person so appointed would hold office for the unexpired term of the former incumbent. As stated in Government Code section 36502 (a), a person is not eligible to hold office as a Council Member unless he/she is at the time of assuming the office an elector of the city and a registered voter.

The law and/or past practice does not suggest a specific method of appointment and several options are available to the Council. For instance, the Council may appoint the next highest vote getter from the November 7, 2006, General Municipal Election; the Council may appoint someone else from the list of candidates at the November 7, 2006, election; or the Council may appoint someone who did not run for the position to complete the term of office. The Council may also conduct interviews to fill the vacant position. If this latter option is selected, the interviews would be conducted at a public meeting. The Council could specify the persons they wish to interview or could choose to accept letters of intent or applications from interested persons.

B. Special Election.
Should the City Council decide to fill the vacancy by special election rather than appointment, the Council must call for a special election to be held on the “next regularly established election date” not less than 114 days from the call of the special election. (Gov’t Code section 36512(b).) In other words, the Council must call for the special election within 30 days of December 12, 2006, to be held on June 5, 2007. The person elected would hold office for the unexpired term of the former incumbent. (Gov’t Code section 36512(a).

A special statutory procedure governs in the event the Council would like to call a special election and appoint an interim Councilmember to serve until the special election is held. Government Code section 36512(c) (3) authorizes the Council to enact an ordinance providing that a person appointed to fill a vacancy on the Council holds office only until the date of a special election called to fill the remainder of the term or until November 2008. The Council can call for a special election and appoint someone to fill the vacant position until the special election is held and the results certified.


Should the Council decide to appoint a person to fill the vacancy there could be a minimal fiscal impact by way of staff costs if it is decided the prospective candidates be interviewed. Should the Council decide to hold a special election the County Elections Department has provided an estimate for the cost of a special election of $6.50 per registered voter. Based on this rate, it would cost the City approximately $135,000 to hold the special election in June. This would require a budget amendment from the General Fund.


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