Brian Barnwell
Paul Wellman (file)

With 45 candidates applying for the council vacancy created with the recent ascension to Sacramento by former councilmember Das Williams, the crowd is just five shy of the number in a Miss America pageant. Included among those seeking the appointment is one former mayor (Sheila Lodge), two former city councilmembers (Gerry DeWitt and Brian Barnwell), three current planning commissioners (Sheila Lodge, John Jostes, and Michael Jordan), and nine former council candidates.

Demographically, 27 of the applicants are male, 18 female, 34 white, nine Latino, and two African American. Professionally, four come from the real estate industry, two are doctors, two retired firefighters, one a former assistant city attorney, and one a former high-ranking county administrator. Some are political walk-ons — newcomers to the public process — but many bring with them impressive résumés of community involvement.

Almost all stressed their listening skills and ability to work well with others. But given how polarized the council now is — split three-to-three between liberal and conservative factions — it may be that none of the candidates are capable of securing the four votes needed to get the appointment.

John Jostes
Paul Wellman (file)

As a practical matter, most councilmembers say they’re looking for someone who will be able to tackle the city’s budget, a complex and labor-intensive undertaking even in the best of times. But city bean counters are bracing for more bad news this year, so knowledge, expertise, and a sense of priorities will weigh heavily. Likewise, many councilmembers stressed familiarity with efforts to update the city’s General Plan, an endeavor that’s stymied efforts thus far in winning the five-vote supermajority needed for approval. Given the volatility of the issues — revolving mostly around housing densities — any candidate with a decisive, informed opinion is likely to be unacceptable to one side or the other.

Politically, neither of the council camps is inclined to appoint anyone clearly aligned with the other side, especially if so doing gives that candidate the advantage of running as an “appointed incumbent” in next November’s City Council elections. Thus far, only two candidates — former councilmember Brian Barnwell and former assistant city attorney David Hughes, now on the Housing Authority board — explicitly stated in their written application that they would not run but only fill out the remaining year of councilmember Williams’s term if appointed. “I do not seek the mantle of incumbency and have no desire to run for reelection,” wrote Barnwell.

Although councilmembers have been getting lobbied for some time now by aspiring applicants, the first formal interviews take place next Tuesday in the council chambers, starting at 6 p.m. There, candidates will each be given five minutes to make their pitch, a process that could take close to four hours. After that, members of the public will be given a chance to speak. The council is not scheduled to decide until the following week. Although the city’s charter requires that an appointment be made within 30 days of Williams’s departure, there is no enforcement mechanism to ensure it happens. Many councilmembers are privately resigned to the possibility that an impasse is quite possible and that they and the rest of the city may need to wait until next November’s election for Williams’s successor to be named.

Council Candidates

Andy Rosenberger
John Jostes
Gerry DeWitt
Audrey Addison Williams
Alberto Pizano
Chris Casebeer
Cruzito Herrera Cruz
Willie A. Shaw
Tom Brooks Burgher
Sheila Lodge
Brian Fahnestock
Michael Jordan
David K. Hughes
John J. Thyne
Richard Goodfriend
Beverly D. Brott
Lori A. Frisbie
Barbara E. Mathews
John J. Torell
Loretta Redd
Dianne Channing
Robert Burke
Brian B. Barnwell
Nancy Sirbu
Keith Coffman-Grey
Della Rosales
James E. Caldwell
Suzanna L. Savage-Raftican
Ed Cavazos
Cathie McCammon
Christopher A. Blair
David Pritchett
Diego Torres-Santos
Wayne B. Norris
Marilyn Rickard
Jerry Matteo
Bonnie Raisin
Daniel Ramirez
Sharon Byrne
Blanca Flor Benedict
Randy Rowse
Carola Nicholson
Charles Huff
Naomi Kovacs
G. Paul Berenson


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