The open seat on the Santa Maria City Council will be filled via an application process — assuming that council members can overcome a deadlock and agree on an applicant.
The City Manager’s Office planned to send out a press release Wednesday calling for those interested in filling the remaining two years of Mayor Alice Patino’s four-year term to fill out applications to be returned by next Tuesday.
Council members voted 3-1 during Tuesday night’s meeting in favor of the process, with Patino dissenting, according to City Manager Rick Haydon.
City Councilman Bob Orach caved from a previous unmovable stance he shared with Patino, which was to fill the seat by appointing Etta Waterfield, who narrowly lost her election bid for the council as the third-highest vote-getter.
The council has been deadlocked on the issue since new members were sworn in two months ago, although all seem to agree a costly special election shouldn’t be an option.
As a result of Tuesday’s vote, the city is advertising the vacant fifth seat for any city resident and registered voter of at least age 18.
Applicants to the post, which pays $1,050 per month, must include a letter of interest of no more than 400 words explaining reasons for applying, prior government experience, and past or current involvement in community organizations.
Application questionnaires can be picked up from the City Clerk’s Office at 110 East Cook St., Room 3. They must be returned to that location by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
At the Feb. 19 council meeting, each applicant will be allowed to give a five-minute oral presentation during open session, at which time council members can ask questions and make an appointment.
Haydon said although that meeting will be past the Feb. 16 deadline, which puts the council in violation of the 60-day government rule that states an appointment or special election must take place, he doesn’t consider it an actual deviance because Feb. 16 is a Saturday and the Monday before the meeting is President’s Day.
“We feel that we’re still in the spirit of the government code,” he told Noozhawk.
If the council again deadlocks and continues the matter, they will be in violation of the rule, and any interested person could force them to call a special election.
Questions regarding applications can be directed to Chief Deputy City Clerk Rhonda Garietz at 805.925.0951 ext. 307.