BARSTOW • Retired California Highway Patrol Officer Merrill Gracey was selected to fill the City Council’s open seat at a public meeting Monday night.
The council unanimously voted to appoint Gracey after interviewing nine candidates.
“No one is more surprised than me,” Gracey said.
Gracey was first to be interviewed out of the nine and the order of interviews were decided at random through a drawing. Two candidates, Ted Baca and Ruben Grijalva III, withdrew their applications before the start of the meeting. A third candidate, Michael Hernandez, withdrew after being interviewed due to a conflict of interest. His wife is councilwoman Carmen Hernandez.
Gracey said he applied for the open positions on both the City Council and City Planning Commission because he was anxious to serve the community after being retired.
“I had my 62nd birthday last week and I feel like I’ve been put out to pasture and I just need the opportunity to serve again,” he said.
Each candidate was asked the same eight questions with an open time limit to respond. Although it was a public meeting, Mayor Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre asked the interviewees to wait in the foyer at City Hall while the others took their turn.
In his interview, Gracey said the most important concern facing Barstow is economic development. He also said two of his top priorities on the council would be efficient city government and effective communication between the council and the community.
“I’m very anxious to communicate effectively with the people who come into this chamber and assure them that I will do my best to air their views, discuss their views, and examine their views,” Gracey said.
The order of interviews were: Merrill Gracey, Gloria Darling, Michael Hernandez, Timothy Saenz, Richard Troutman, Gus Nassar, Richard Bremem, Ved Shandil, and Marilyn Kruse.
“I thought the process was very good and fair,” Kruse said at the end of the meeting.
Gracey will be formally sworn in at the next council meeting, which has been moved to Tues. Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.