The application process for fill the seat are now open until Aug. 19; interviews will be held on Aug. 24
PASO ROBLES — Paso Robles City Councilmembers met on Monday night to determine how they would fill the vacant seat on the board left by Councilmember Maria Garcia.
Garcia resigned from her seat on Paso Robles City Council on Aug. 2 after she notified the City Manager and City Attorney of a change in her personal residency, which precludes her from serving as a council member.
Garcia’s term of office was originally set to expire on Dec. 1, but no candidates have filed to run for her seat as a District 2 council member.
The deadline for filing candidate applications ends this Friday, Aug. 12 — however, City Clerk Melissa Boyer told the council that one person has pulled paperwork to run for the seat but has not returned their paperwork.
Council had three options to look to in filling the vacancy: appoint a new councilmember, hold a special election, or opt to not fill the position until the General Election in November appoints the new councilmember.
Council opted to appoint a new council member to full Garcia’s seat. Since Garcia was originally elected as an at large seat in 2018, her replacement will also be at large. The new council member will serve until the end of Garcia’s term in December.
If no one files to run for the seat, then following the November Election, Council would appoint someone from District 2 to serve the full four year term.
During public comment, City Capital Projects Engineer Ditas Esperanza offered herself for council’s consideration as Garcia’s replacement.
She said that Garcia was a woman with a Spanish last name and a woman and should be replaced with someone with similar traits.
“The spirit behind the districting is to encourage involvement to the council from the minority community. We’ve had a woman, a Spanish last name, from the Hispanic community. Why not appoint someone along those same lines? A woman, Spanish last name, and a Filipino decent.”
Esperanza added, “I can do it professionally, enthusiastically, and with the same passion that I’ve had since I came here to this city in 1994. Thank you for your consideration.”
Esperanza noted that a City employee could simultaneously serve on the city council but the City Attorney clarified Gov Code Section 53227 specifically prohibits a city employee can simultaneously serve on the city council.
During the discussion, Councilmember Fred Strong commented that the redistricting purpose was to avoid discrimination.
He said, “That means you don’t favor or disfavor any particular group. So you look at qualifications regardless of what their sex is, or what their background is, or what their nationality is. It should be an equal level playing field for whatever candidates we may have.”
With a 4-0 vote, City Council motioned to immediately open the application process to find a candidate to be appointed to Garcia’s seat. The application process closes on Aug. 19, and on Aug. 24, the council will hold the interview process and vote on a new council member.
The next City Council Meeting, Tuesday, Aug. 16 at 6:30 p.m.