The seat is expected to be vacated in the coming weeks by Elliott, who ran a successful campaign for the 5th District seat on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.
Elliott, who recused himself from council debate Tuesday, is scheduled to take the oath for his new position Jan. 7. He is not required under state law to resign his current seat until he is sworn in to a new position.
On Tuesday, city staff prepared a presentation for the council that outlines three options for filling the seat.
The first option involves a special election that San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters Austin Erdman estimates would cost $7.50 per voter — a total of $252,405, according to City Manager Leon Churchill.
Each of the other two options involves the remaining council members filling the seat by one of two appointment processes.
One would have the council solicit applications or make nominations from the community and hold an interview and selection process.
In contrast, the second selection option would see council members fill the seat by appointing the third-place finisher from the council race that appeared on Nov. 6 general election.
Ray Morelos finished third in the campaign for two seats, behind challenger Nancy Young and sitting Councilman Michael Maciel.
Young, who finished first in the race, said she has spoken with “thousands of people” since Election Day who said they want the third-place finisher to be appointed.
“Many people did vote with the thought in mind that quite possibly whoever came in third place would be appointed,” she said. “I’m not saying it has to be that way, but as far as looking at the process, I believe we really should go with appointment. I believe that has to do with the voice of what the citizens of Tracy have already spoken.”
Councilman Robert Rickman felt the council would be most open by having a three-applicant pool that includes the three candidates on the November ballot who were not elected. Charles Manne finished the race in fourth, while Roger Birdsall was fifth.
“This process ensures the greatest transparency and eliminates speculation of favoritism or behind-the-scenes deals,” he said. “It takes our personal feelings out.”
Rickman thought the community is most familiar with these people because “they have been vetted during the election process.”
“All three of them — they spent their own money, their own time and the most important thing, I believe they held themselves out to public scrutiny,” he said. “They had the guts to get out there and make a
Maciel, who finished second in the field during his first race for re-election, believes the process should be open to applicants in the community and that formal interviews with standardized questions be conducted.
“Otherwise, that guy has nice socks on and I want to vote him on council,” Maciel said. “It becomes very subjective, and, to me, it’s not transparent.”
During the public comment on the topic, several Morales supporters spoke in favor of appointing him to the opening as the third-place finisher. Others also spoke in favor of picking the third-place vote-getter from the recent election, but not in direct support of Morales.
Only one man spoke in favor of a special election — an option the council immediately ruled out, citing cost and time.
The discussion ended without a clear course being decided. Mayor Brent Ives told the council that the seat can’t be filled until Elliott formally resigns and that the council could only discuss the options until it’s vacated.
The four members unanimously agreed to continue discussing the matter at the next council meeting on Dec. 18.
After the meeting, Elliott said he wasn’t going to resign until the election results were finalized. The results were expected to be made official by the end of business Tuesday by the county registrar’s office.
Elliott was uncertain whether he would submit his resignation by the Dec. 18 meeting.
“It just doesn’t seem quite appropriate to resign before it’s official you’ve been elected,” Elliott said. “The timing
made sense to serve up through this session, because for the most part we still had five members for this session.”
In addition to recusing himself for the discussion about his replacement, he also recused himself during debate to renew a property tax agreement with San Joaquin County, since negotiations involve the board of supervisors.
But earlier in the night, Elliott was able to nominate Maciel to again serve as mayor pro tem, and then cast the deciding vote in favor of Maciel’s reappointment. Young and Rickman voted against the nomination.
The mayor pro tem handles the duties of the mayor at public functions and meetings when the mayor cannot be present. Each year, a council member is nominated by other members and must be confirmed by a majority vote.
Elliott said he “hadn’t looked at that part of the agenda until just before the meeting.”
“I had forgotten that oh yeah, that’s one of the first things you do — decide who the mayor pro tem is going to be,” he said.
In other council business, Young, Maciel, Ives and Raymond McCray were all sworn in to their posts. McCray and Ives each ran unopposed for city treasurer and mayor.
• Contact Joel Danoy at 830-4229 or firstname.lastname@example.org.