San Luis Obispo voters will likely get the chance to choose who will replace outgoing councilman Andrew Carter in a vote-by-mail ballot early this summer.
Despite a mixed bag of input from residents, the city council on Feb. 5 unanimously agreed to direct city staffers to get the ball rolling on a special election, which is expected to cost the city roughly $65,000, according to a staff report. Carter recused himself from the vote.
Though they were initially looking at an election in late July, the council took action to immediately begin the process, bumping the election date to some time in June.
Following his six years of service on the council, Carter announced in January that he would be vacating his seat Feb. 19 to accept a job in Guadalupe. He has two years remaining in his term.
The council had to weigh the cost of an election with the option of simply appointing someone to the position. Many members of the public—notably those from the Democratic Central Committee—argued for the appointment of Jeff Aranguena, a DCC member who finished third in the November 2012 election with almost 20 percent of the vote. Independent candidate Kevin Rice finished with a close 16 percent.
Both Aranguena and Rice told the council that an election is the most transparent and democratic way to fill the vacancy.
Councilman Dan Carpenter, who was appointed to his seat in 2010, took issue with the notion that his appointment set a “precedent,” noting that there have only been three appointments in the last 20 years, and only one of them went to the runner-up from the most recent election.
“There is a difference when you have a vacancy because of an election. This is a resignation,” Carpenter said. “I don’t think $65,000 is too much when that is the cost of democracy.”
The council is expected to set a date to file for candidacy at its Feb. 19 meeting.