In the 2016 general election, Roland Velasco was elected mayor with two years remaining on his council seat. His seat as a council member was vacated and needed to be filled. The need to fill that seat was known on the night of the election. A total of 19,503 Gilroy voters had indicated their preferences among the eight candidates running for city council. The council had the responsibility of filling the vacated seat. The council could have appointed the fourth place candidate who had 98.2 percent of the number of votes that the elected third place candidate had received. Instead the council appointed the sixth-place candidate to the vacated seat.

Was this manner of filling the position legal? Yes. Was this manner of filling the position right? Not to my way of thinking. The voters had indicated their preferences among the candidates and the council ignored their votes in filling the position. I was there the evening the council filled the position. There was no consideration from the council on what the vote had been. The discussion was each council member indicating their personal preference among the candidates. Simply put, it was six people instead of 19,503 people choosing that council member.

I can accept this process when a position becomes vacant in the middle of a term, but not when it becomes vacant as a result of the election and there are candidates available that the voters had voted for.

I would suggest that the City of Gilroy adopt into its charter that, should this situation arise in the future, the fourth-place candidate fill the vacant seat. I do not expect this to formally happen prior to the coming election. Since a council member with two years left on her term is running for mayor there is a good chance this situation may occur this year. I would like to recommend that the council and the candidates agree before a revision can be made that the fourth-place candidate will fill the vacant position should this situation arise from the current election. The voters’ voices should be heard and accepted.

Bill O’Connor


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