Bob Elliott, who was elected in November to the 5th District of the San Joaquin County Board for Supervisors, resigned from the seat on Dec. 18 to begin his newly elected office.
Rickman and Councilwoman Nancy Young had first voted to appoint Ray Morelos, who was also vying for the vacated seat.
Mayor Brent Ives and Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel voted in favor of Manne, who has served since 2009 on the Tracy Planning Commission.
But the deadlock convinced Rickman to change his vote, as the remaining options were to open the application process to all eligible Tracy residents, host a special election in June that could cost the city as much as $250,000, or have another meeting and hope one council member’s mind changed.
After the meeting, Rickman said he switched his vote for “the good of the city,” explaining a council that lacked a potential tie-breaking vote could stall economic development.
“We have a lot of things coming to this town and we can’t risk a deadlock,” Rickman said.
He added that either Manne or Morelos would have served ably.
“It was a very, very tough thing to do,” he said. “You’re talking about two excellent candidates.”
The council agreed during its Dec. 18 meeting that the pool of candidates would be limited to the three unsuccessful council candidates during the Nov. 6 general election.
Roger Birdsall, however, withdrew his name for consideration earlier in the meeting.
Before taking his seat behind the dais, Manne said he was surprised by the outcome.
“I’m grateful that Mr. Rickman decided to choose his next-best candidate, as opposed to spending the money on a special election,” he said.
Manne said he would have considered not running if a special election were conducted.
“I’ve seriously considered not running in a special election (had it happened), because of the cost associated,” he said. “It’s not being a good steward of city funds to compete in a special election.”
Morelos was also glad a special election wasn’t necessary.
“Bringing it to a special election is not the right thing to do,” Morelos said. “As I was sitting there (during council discussion), I was considering stepping up and saying ‘I withdraw.’”
Morelos, who served on the City Council in the late 1980s, also said he understood the council did what was “best for the city.”
“I’m not disappointed,” he said. “I understand the process — I’ve been there before.”
The council arrived at its decision after Manne and Morelos answered 10 questions that were formulated by a subcommittee of Rickman and Maciel and approved by the entire council.
Both candidates stressed their experience in the answers they have council members.
Manne focused on his past four years on the city’s planning commission, time dealing with the San Joaquin Council of Governments and financial background as a New York Life agent.
Morelos pointed to his time on the council, business experience and stints as president of the Chamber of Commerce, Sutter Tracy Community Hospital board member, and Tracy City Center Association board member.
Each council member said the two were both well-qualified.
“They’re pretty much identical,” Rickman said during the meeting. “They both are for public safety, quality of life, budget, both want to bring jobs here in town.”
One of the few places they appeared to differ was regarding Measure E, the city’s half-cent sales tax increase which was passed by voters in 2010 and enacted in April 2011. It expires in 2016.
Manne said the city should work diligently to avoid needing Measure E’s revenue beyond its five-year lifespan.
Morelos, however, said it would be an “easy decision” to ask voters to renew the tax if it meant protecting services such as police staffing, fire protection and public works.
Young said she disagreed with Morelos regarding Measure E, but said that his experience and forward-thinking convinced her to support him even after Rickman changed his vote.
“There’s some experience that just comes with living,” Young said during the council’s discussion.
Rickman originally supported Morelos in part because he took on various volunteer positions after he departed the City Council.
“He kept on working with the community. That shows to me a lot,” Rickman said. “I believe that’s what separates him, and what gives the nod to Mr. Morelos.”
Maciel and Ives both said Manne’s more recent experience with the city was a reason they supported him.
“I think he has had the opportunity to have much greater exposure much more recently, than probably most of us in town,” Maciel said.
Manne was sworn in by Ives and was seated for the regular council meeting, which immediately followed the special meeting.
His first action was to resign his seat on the planning commission, which will be filled by City Council appointment.
• Contact Jon Mendelson at 830-4231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a glance
WHAT: Tracy City Council special meeting
WHEN: 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15
WHERE: City Hall, 333 Civic Center Plaza
DETAILS: Mayor Brent Ives, Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel, council members Robert Rickman and Nancy Young were present.