Want to be a city council member, but without the hassle of actually running for office? Now's your chance: The Elk Grove City Council said Wednesday night it would appoint someone to fill the District 4 seat being vacated by Council Member Gary Davis, who was elected mayor earlier this month and assumes his new office Dec. 12.
The alternative, holding a special election to fill the seat, could cost the city about $500,000 and likely couldn't happen until June 2013.
"In a perfect world, put it out to a vote, but it's half a million dollars we would potentially save," Mayor Jim Cooper said. "That's a lot of money, especially in this day and age. We pick people every day for commissions and boards, and we do a pretty good job of it."
Council Member Sophia Scherman, who was another of the six candidates who ran for mayor, said she supported holding a special election.
"This is a very serious, serious thing we need to do," Scherman said, citing the value the council has placed on community involvement in the past.
Elk Grove resident Michael Monasky spoke during the meeting, saying appointing a new council member would be "insulting" to any veteran who has fought to defend democracy.
"Let's spend the money," Monasky said. "What's the cost of blood?"
Vice Mayor Pat Hume and Davis said they would want to ask potential appointees if they would choose not to run for election in 2014, when Davis' term is scheduled to end. Doing so would remove the advantage gained by incumbents running for election, Hume said.
Hume also said he felt the appointment process had been tainted by news coverage of Planning Commissioner Nancy Chaires' intention to seek the seat.
"How much one person has already been in the news and put forward as the 'heir apparent' to the seat troubles me on several levels," he said.
In the end, the council opted for the appointment process: Davis' term as mayor will start on Dec. 12, and the council has 60 days after that to either call a special election or appoint someone. The city will accept applications immediately and until Jan. 2. The council will meet on Jan. 9 and could appoint a candidate at that meeting or its next meeting, on Jan. 23. Council members said they hoped an outside group would hold a candidates forum for the people interested in the seat.