Hollister City Council members voted to fill a council seat left vacant by District 1 Councilmember Ray Friend. In a 3-1 vote, Planning Commissioner Carol Lenoir was appointed.
The Oct. 1 special meeting began with candidate interviews with the council in chambers. The three candidates who had applied before the Sept. 14 deadline were all interviewed: Elizabeth Doidge, Dawn Koistinen and Lenoir. Kevin Henderson had applied for the seat, but later withdrew his application.
The Hollister City Council rejected the option of scheduling a special council election next spring, following Friend’s resignation from his seat at an Aug. 7 council meeting. Friend told his colleagues and constituents he was stepping down from the council because he is moving to Washington.
By law, the city had to make its decision on an appointment before Oct. 7, 60 days after Friend’s resignation became effective.
The appointment comes one month before the mayoral position and the three other council member seats will be on the Nov. 6 ballot. Friend’s resignation came too late for his open seat to be included in the November election.
When the seat first became available, City Clerk Christine Black told the Free Lance that the council could have decided to keep the seat open and hold a special election for the remainder of Friend’s term, which expires in 2020. Instead, the council chose to fill the seat by appointment. Black said March 5 was the earliest possible date for a special election to fill the seat.
On Aug. 20, the council voted 3-1, with Mayor Ignacio Velazquez opposed, to appoint Friend’s successor and not allow District 1 voters to choose his replacement.
Velazquez also opposed the Oct. 1 vote to appoint Lenoir. At the special meeting, Velazquez had moved to appoint Koistinen, but the motion was defeated after no one seconded it.
The mayor said he had hoped to have Koistinen on the council because she has a financial background, and he believes the council needs someone who “really understands the numbers.”
Velazquez told the Free Lance he thought Koistinen would bring something different to the council and that is why he ultimately could not vote in favor of Lenoir.
“I wanted to make sure we had someone different representing that district that was outside of that circle,” said Velazquez.
On the Planning Commission, Lenoir has worked with the city on two master plans, and she said her position as chairwoman of the Planning Commission qualified and prepared her to be on the City Council.
“I’m excited to go serve,” said Lenoir. “I’ve always wanted to.”