BARSTOW • The City Council will hold a special meeting next week, as they move toward a decision to fill the empty council seat.
Eleven applications were submitted for the open seat which was left vacant after Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre took her elected position as mayor in November.
Instead of holding a special election, estimated to cost $50,000, the Council will appoint a new member following an interview process. Interviews are scheduled for Monday evening at City Hall and will be open to the public.
At the regular council meeting Monday, three public comments were made in opposition to the process, suggesting that the third highest vote-getter from the November ballot, former councilman Timothy Saenz, should get the seat.
“I’m concerned about this whole process and I know it’s the one that you’ve chosen but I really wonder if it’s really what the people want,” said Robert Haroldsson of Barstow, during the meeting.
“I do understand it’s expensive to run another election. I can see that. So instead of going through this whole process — what is wrong with the third choice? The people voted for the third choice,” Haroldsson said.
Two other public comments mirrored Haroldsson’s.
“I think that man (Saenz) ought to be given the opportunity more than anybody else because he did run,” Ted Aleman said.
In response to public comments, councilman Richard Harpole said he was opposed to re-electing Saenz because of his potential to sue the city, referring to a complaint Saenz filed to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing in April after former Barstow Police Chief Dianne Burns allegedly made threatening and harassing statements about him.
“I cannot in clear conscious support a person while sitting on this body who took action to sue the city, and that’s why I support the appointment process that we’ve decided to implement,” Harpole said.
Councilman Timothy Silva said he tried before the November election to create the option to vote for three seats, but it was not permitted because of state laws. He also said he was opposed to the idea of awarding the seat to the third highest vote-getter.
“We got to vote for two and if your third vote would not have been that person, you’ve been robbed of the right to vote. You didn’t get three votes,” he said.
Former Councilman Saenz, who is one of the eleven applicants for the open seat, said he would love to continue to serve the city. He said he does not intend to sue, but took action in April for protection.
“I just followed the letter of the law to protect myself and my family,” Saenz said.
The eleven applicants for the open seat are: Ted Baca, Richard Bremem, Gloria Darling, Merrill Gracey, Ruben Grijalva III, Michael Hernandez, Marilyn Kruse, Gussan Nassar, Timothy Saenz, Ved Shandil and Richard Troutman.