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Galt City Council weighs options to fill empty seats

Councilmember Meredith resigned in July, Clare to leave in August

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Posted: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 1:16 am | Updated: 3:33 pm, Tue Jul 20, 2010.

Time is ticking for the Galt City Council to make a decision about whether to fill Councilman Andrew Meredith's seat before the November election.

Meredith resigned on July 7, leaving the council 30 days to decide what to do with the position before the August 7 deadline.

The council will decide what to do at tonight's meeting. It has three options: appoint a successor, call a special election or leave the seat vacant. Since Meredith's term is up in November, the city will not hold a special election.

While the council could leave the position open until November, there are potential problems with not having all five seats filled.

Councilman Darryl Clare also plans to resign before his term is finished in November. On Monday, he said he is planning to turn in his resignation at the first meeting in August.

The council needs at least four out of five members to vote on a resolution to condemn property or adopt an urgency ordinance.

If the council keeps both seats vacant, all three remaining members would have to vote in favor of ordinance and resolutions. All other actions would require two out of three votes.

Because there would only be six or seven meetings before both seats were filled in the general election, City Attorney Steve Rudolph said leaving the seats open is a viable option.

"I think if it was earlier in the year, it would be a greater concern," he said.

At least two councilmembers are leaning toward filling Meredith's seat.

Councilwoman Barbara Payne said her main concern is that the city would not be able to pass any urgency ordinances until both seats are filled.

"In a case of an emergency, we could not even act, and I don't think I would ever want to put the city in that situation," she said.

Clare agreed and said in the past he has seen times when the city has not been able to carry out city business or have a meeting.

He used an example from before he was elected to council when former mayor Tony Gora missed meetings when he was sick with cancer.

"Neither the city or staff could count on the city council being able to do their part to carry out the city's business," Clare said.

City Attorney Steve Rudolph recommended two ways to fill the position. The council could vote to advertise the positions to see who is interested and then vote to appoint someone at a special meeting or the next regular council meeting.

The other option is for councilmembers to nominate candidates and then take a vote. The councilmember would need to verify with the person beforehand to make sure they would be willing to accept the position.

Clare believes the city needs to see who is interested in the position first.

"The has to be advertised and made known," he said. "Everyone should know that we are thinking about making an appointment."

But because the city is on such a tight deadline, Payne said she is concerned that advertising the position could take to long. She said she did not want to say who she would nominate to fill the position in case the council decides to leave the positions vacant.

"If it comes to appointing someone, I'd want to try and find someone who has maybe served on a city commission, like the Planning Commission, as opposed to someone coming in cold," she said.

The council meeting will be at 7 p.m. tonight in the council chambers at City Hall, 380 Civic Drive.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com or read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/city_buzz.

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