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Santa Barbara Council Votes to Continue Appointment Process, but Also Consider June Election

The new Santa Barbara City Council hit the ground running Tuesday, although it may not be sure where it’s going.

The council decided to pursue three separate paths in its quest to fill the open District 3 council seat that resulted from Cathy Murillo's election as mayor.

Four members of the council — Eric Friedman, Kristen Sneddon, Gregg Hart and Murillo — voted to talk about a June special election to fill the vacant seat.

Council members Randy Rowse and Jason Dominguez voted in opposition.

So now, on Jan. 23, the council will hammer out — again — the nitty gritty details of whether to hold a special election or appoint someone to fill the seat, or do both.

At the same meeting, the council is planning to interview candidates who apply for the seat.

The previous City Council on Dec. 5 voted to interview and appoint someone to fill the last two years of Murillo’s term. The deadline to apply for the vacant seat is Jan 16.

The council plans to interview the candidates in public at the Jan. 23 meeting.

In a separate vote, supported by all six members of the council, the panel agreed to hold a discussion at an unknown later day to talk about items that were not addressed in the district elections settlement in 2015.

Some of those issues include whether and when to move to even-year elections, and how to fill a vacant seat when a member of a district is elected mayor or decides to leave office.

“I want to know what are our options,” Friedman said. “I am asking for an opportunity to discuss it as a new council.”

Dominguez objected to re-opening discussion on whether to hold a special election while still pursuing the appointment process because it could discourage applicants.

“I am not sure what kind of signal that sends,” Dominguez said.

Murillo said, “I am positive people will apply, even if they haven’t already.”

The council is being prodded by retired judge Frank Ochoa and former Eastside District 1 council candidate Jacqueline Inda to hold a special election rather than an appointment.

“It’s a new era, at least I hope,” Inda said. “Let’s change the path of communication with the people I represent.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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