Thursday, December 11, 2008

Antioch City Council seeks fifth member

Antioch residents who think they would make a good City Council member have through Monday to apply for the position left open after Mayor Jim Davis was sworn in Tuesday night.

The four members of the newly installed City Council — Davis, Reggie Moore, Mary Rocha and Brian Kalinowski — discarded the options of holding a special election or appointing former councilman Arne Simonsen, instead voting unanimously to interview and choose a new council member from among applicants.

Simonsen came in third behind Rocha and Kalinowski on Nov. 4, and the council has in the past filled vacancies with runner-up candidates. The vacancy was created when then-councilman Davis defeated incumbent Donald Freitas in the mayoral election.

About a dozen residents spoke in favor of Simonsen's appointment. They lauded his institutional knowledge of regional issues, including Delta water protection.

"I urge you to do your jobs and do the right thing for the city and put Mr. Simonsen back on the council," Antioch resident Marty Fernandez said. "Don't make this personal or political."

Other speakers suggested appointing residents Martha Parsons, Kay Trail and Freitas.

The council discussed Simonsen's appointment briefly, with Davis voicing his support for the idea. They ultimately decided to call for applicants, and City Attorney Lynn Tracy Nerland affirmed that Simonsen could apply.

Simonsen said Wednesday he planned to do Advertisementso. He said he was disappointed with the council's decision and the delay it will cause in seating a new member — particularly given the task the council faces in coming weeks to cut several million dollars from the city's operating budget.

"It's going to be very difficult for someone who has not been involved to be able to dissect the budget and make $5 million in cuts in the right areas, and (to find) someone who's going to be able to continue to reach out to the region like I did," Simonsen said.

Moore said last week that he would not support Simonsen's appointment because of "philosophical differences."

City Council applications can be submitted to the Antioch city clerk through 4:30 p.m. Monday. The required paperwork can be picked up at the clerk's office, located in City Hall at Third and H streets, or on the city's Web site. The council will interview applicants during a special City Council meeting Dec. 18.

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