When the Bishop City Council returns to work on January 12 with its two newly-elected councilmembers, Joe Pecsi and Karen Schwartz, they will have up to 60 days to make an important decision on who will be appointed to complete the two year term of Councilmembers Dave Stottlemyre, who was elected to the Office of the Inyo County Assessor. He will be sworn in on January 5 in Independence and his last day as City Council is December 31.
The Sheet reached out to all five of the current councilmembers and candidates. All councilmembers but one responded and offered their thoughts on the process of Stottlemyre’s replacement. The other candidates that ran in the election, Jim Ellis, Keith Glidewell, and Howard Wu, were also contacted for their thoughts about the possibility of serving out Stottlemyre’s term.
Municipal Code 2.04.040 addresses Filling of vacancies:
A. Whenever a vacancy occurs on the city council, the city council shall, in its discretion, either appoint a person to fill the vacancy, or in the alternative, shall call a special election to fill the vacancy pursuant to the provisions of Government Code § 36512(b).
B. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no appointment shall be made to fill a vacancy on the city council if the appointment would result in a majority of the members serving on the city council having been appointed. In such case, the vacancy shall be filled pursuant to the provisions of Government Code § 36512(d).
C. A person appointed or elected to fill a vacancy on the city council holds office for the unexpired term of the former incumbent.
D. Nothing herein shall limit the power of the city council to appoint a person to the city council pursuant to the provisions of the Election Code §10229.
The options are to either hold a special election to simply appoint someone to the office. All of the councilmembers that responded felt that holding a special election would cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars and would likely have a poor turnout. That leaves making an appointment. The Municipal Code leaves the process for choosing an appointee entirely up to the Council.
There are two schools of thought on how to make the appointment. The first is to simply go to the election results and choose the next candidate with the most votes, thereby respecting the votes of the electorate. It should be noted that the difference in the vote tally for the top three candidates in the election was very close. If this is the method used, the candidate being offered the appointment would be Jim Ellis, the former Mayor and Councilman who ran for re-election but lost by 30 votes to newly elected Councilman Joe Pecsi, who was second in the voting after Karen Schwartz.
While some councilmembers brought up the idea that a precedent had been set in 2012 with the appointment of Keith Glidewell, a City Council candidate in that election to serve out the remaining 2-year term of Jeff Griffiths, others feel that there was no precedent set and that under the municipal code, it was entirely up to the Council’s discretion as to how to go about an appointment, including opening up the appointment opportunity to others in the community.
All of the councilmembers that responded also felt that the 3 candidates that were not elected deserved consideration as they showed the willingness to run and made the effort to campaign. However, they all felt that the council should look at what is being brought to the table by anyone being considered. An example given was consideration of how effective a candidate had been that had already served on the council and how well did they work with the others, including how much effort he put into the issues.
Former candidate Howard Wu, said, “While I don’t know what they are thinking, they tend to be conservative and do what people expect them to do. I would be surprised if it was different. However, the candidates from the election are ‘vetted’ by the voter. It was a close race and I was a distant fifth. I would accept that position only if I could have informal endorsement of Glidewell and Ellis.”
Former Mayor and Councilman Jim Ellis feels that the process should consider those that showed the interest, and put out time and effort. He said, “I enjoy serving the community and making difference. There are important issues and projects coming before the City Council such as the airport, Warren Street, and others.” On the other hand, he also made it clear that he respected the Council’s prerogative to make the decision based on whomever they felt was best for the position.
Former Councilman Keith Glidewell said “Sometimes an election is not always based on what someone brought to the table; how effective they have been. The public might have a completely different view than the councilmembers who have actually served alongside someone.” He went on to say that the appointment process is a good opportunity for council members to decide who they would like to have sitting next to them with the challenges the Council will be dealing with and whether or not they want that person on their team.
It does appears that the City Council, based on comments made by the councilmembers, will be allowing the public to voice its opinion on how to make the appointment. As one of them said, “We want the best person possible and we want as much transparency as possible.”
A few odds and ends … we will post Sue Morning’s ski and snowboard columns online this week.
Interestingly (to me at least), I was looking through last year’s Year in Review issue and noticed this little gem on the editorial page:
“Snow Summit was assessed to be worth $6.14 million in 2012, up from $5.93 million in 2010, according to County tax records.
Summit purchased Bear Mountain in 2003 for $200,000, accotding to county records, and Bear was valued at $5.7 million in 2012.”
So it appears Mammoth bought these two hills this year for triple their combined 2012 assessed value. Wow.
Retiring Mammoth Police Chief Dan Watson’s final day of work was Tuesday, December 30. His retirement party is scheduled for Saturday January 10 @ Canyon Lodge.
Funny seasonal vignette. I’m at a Chamber of Commerce holiday function in mid-December at the Side Door, and it appears like the entire staff of Mammoth Lakes Tourism is there. I’m speaking with MLT’s Christie Osbrone when she suddenly asks me if I’ve seen John [Urdi].
Me: Uh, no. Why?
Christie: ‘Cause he’s got the credit card.
Which then makes me realize that I’m at a Chamber function where I not only have to buy drinks for myself, but I’m effectively, though indirectly, buying drinks for the entire MLT staff via the company credit card.
When I expressed this to Christie, she was so horrified that she literally ran out to the Village parking lot to get her purse so she could pay for her drink herself.
I appreciated the gesture. MLT staffers should be buying their own drinks at such functions just like the rest of us.