This week, the Bishop City Council was split on how to select its fifth member and fill the seat vacated by Jeff Griffiths when he took his position as Second District Inyo County Supervisor at the beginning of the year.
Ultimately, the council decided to appoint the fourth highest vote-getter from the November election, but that motion was only approved to avoid a special election.
City leaders have two options when it comes to filling a vacated City Council seat – it can either hold a special election and allow the voters to pick the best candidate, or appoint a person of their choosing.
All four board members said they wanted to avoid holding a special election, which could cost between $10,000 and $15,000.
Having agreed to appoint a councilmember rather than hold an election, Councilmember David Stottlemyre and Mayor Laura Smith said they are in favor of opening an application and interview process to all city residents. Mayor Pro-tem Jim Ellis and Councilmember Pat Gardner said they were in favor of appointing Keith Glidewell, who ran for City Council in November, coming in fourth place.
“I believe it is in the best interest of the council, citizens and city staff to take a broader approach and open this up,” Stottlemyre said. He added that he is aware of two candidates who are interested in the position, including Glidewell, who has expressed his continued desire to serve on the council. “The city couldn’t lose with either one,” Stottlemyre said.
Gardner said that she had discussed the issue of filling Griffiths’ vacancy with a number of citizens while she was campaigning. “As I was running for council … I hoped the council would appoint the fourth highest vote-getter,” Gardner said. “I still feel that way. The best people to choose (who serves on the council) would be the people.”
Mayor Pro-tem Ellis said his position on the issue wasn’t so cut-and-dry.
“This is a dilemma for me,” Ellis said. “I can see both sides of the issue. Four- hundred-and-twenty-three voters chose a person in fourth place in November. I would lead towards the vote that was done.”
Mayor Smith said that she recognized that Glidewell took the time to run for office, but wanted to recruit applicants because she feels there may be residents in the community who did not put their names on the November ballot “because they had confidence in the candidates who were running. I would like to see the options if we open it up to applicants,” Smith said.
Gardner made a motion to agendize the appointment of Glidewell, as the fourth highest vote-getter, at the council’s next meeting on Feb. 11.
Before the vote was taken on that motion, Stottlemyre made a motion to amend Gardner’s motion, essentially striking her proposal in favor of a motion for open recruitment.
Before that vote was taken, Tracy explained that a motion to amend a motion would die without a majority vote, meaning a tie would result in the motion failing.
Stottlemyre’s amendment failed, with he and Smith voting yes and Ellis and Gardner voting no.
With the failure of the motion to amend, the vote reverted back to Gardner’s original motion, which was approved unanimously.
Stottlemyre and Smith said they voted in favor of appointing Glidewell to avoid another tied vote and having to hold a special election.
The council is scheduled to vote on the actual appointment of Glidewell at its next meeting.