The Gilroy City Council voted unanimously to appoint a new council person to replace Paul Kloecker, who died last month. People who want the seat have until Jan. 18 to submit applications.
The Gilroy City Charter gave the council three options. Either, make an appointment that evening, accept applications until the Jan. 18 deadline, then interview and appoint a candidate by Feb. 5, or, call for a new general election.
An election would have cost the city up to $350,000, prompting the council to take the more frugal option. The steep price tag of the special election is due primarily because the cost for the standalone election is not consolidated with other jurisdictions, meaning the city would need to pay the entirety of the bill. For the general election in 2016, the cost for the city council race including all candidates cost $43,677.
One known contender for the spot is Tom Fischer, a longtime commissioner on the Planning Commission, who just barely missed winning the seat Kloecker won in 2016. Kloecker garnered 5,471 votes, 95 more than Fischer, who got 5,376 votes.
Three speakers took their opportunity to speak in favor of Fischer’s candidacy during when the floor was opened to public commentary Monday night.
“The Planning Commission has relied on Tom’s extensive research and he has been an asset to the commission and no doubt he will be an asset to the council,” said Sue Rodriguez. “He is not a typical politician. He will talk with people and have a clear understanding of the issues.”
Marie Blankley, a Certified Public Accountant and lifelong Gilroyan has already filed paperwork to run for the city council in the next general election but also plans to apply for fill Kloecker’s vacated seat now.
“I am very sorry that the council is in this position with Mr. Kloecker’s passing, but I hope they have well-qualified candidates to choose from,” Blankley said. “I appreciate that the council has opened it up and I hope they evaluate each candidate on their own merit.”
The city council decided to forgo an appointment Monday night in favor of taking applicants from the public. The process will require a quick turnaround for the council to choose its new member and also get whoever it is quickly up to speed.
Fischer, a retired plumber and 40 year Gilroy resident was also chosen Monday night to retain his current position on the city’s Planning Commission. As the current chairperson of the commission, Fischer also serves on the General Plan Advisory Commission, the Development Standards Task Force, the Citizens Advisory Committee for High-Speed Rail among other positions on various city advisory positions. Should Fischer be chosen to fill Kloecker’s seat, he will be required to resign his position on the Planning Commission.